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December 03, 2005

Bye-bye Berendt?

Josh Feit at The Stranger is tracking a rumor that Washington State Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt may be departing soon, possibly to be replaced by Dwight Pelz.

Berendt, who's been Dem chair for 11 years, said the rumors that he may be leaving "are not without substance." But he added that "nothing is imminent" and he "does not have any new job offer." He said "some people have talked to me [about different jobs], and I'm keeping an open mind."

However, Berendt repeated that "nothing is imminent, and the rumors [that he's leaving] are premature."


(hat tip to Belltowner)

Posted by Jon Stahl on December 3, 2005 at 09:03 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink


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I seriously doubt that Paul is going to be leaving any time soon. The state republicans would have to get their act together and beat us before Paul would be worried. I saw him for a long time at the State Democratic holiday party tonight and he seeamed like he was quite in command.

Posted by: Jacob Metcalf | Dec 4, 2005 11:59:57 PM

The other thing that I wanted to mention is that Paul loves his job and it is very clear to everyone that has worked with him. He is seen as a rising star in the DNC and as a model for how we can win out West. If he were to leave it would be for the DNC not Olympia.

Posted by: Jacob Metcalf | Dec 5, 2005 2:28:35 PM

Paul lives in Olympia and commutes to Seattle every day so I can see the attraction of an Olympia-based job.

The non-denial denial posted above and his most recent one in today's slog basically says "I'm leaving". Why else would he *not* outright deny it?

Posted by: FFAristocrat | Dec 5, 2005 3:16:53 PM

A model of how to win out west? You have to be kidding. Sure Democrats win in Seattle, but that is hardly the demographic of the mountain west that the DCCC needs to win if Pelosi is to become speaker. If Democrats are going to win back the majority, they are going to have to win in regions that look like eastern Washington. And in eastern Washington, Democrats have been roundly and continuously beaten during Paul's tenure, and he has completely ignored them. Berendt's record in the "red" portions of Washington State is one of total failure. God help us if Berendt is somehow seen by the powers that be as having a strategy for winning in the west.

Posted by: anon | Dec 6, 2005 10:30:14 PM

Well, it's official now.

Posted by: FFAristocrat | Dec 7, 2005 6:07:06 PM

I spoke too soon. The official email just came. Paul is stepping down.

Dear Democratic Friends,

I am writing to inform you that I have decided to step down as Chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party effective the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Democratic State Committee on January 28, 2006. We will hold a special election at that time for the remainder of my term which will run until party-wide reorganization in January of 2007.

There are many important reasons why I have made the decision to step down at this time. I would like to share them with you.

I am currently the longest serving Democratic State Party Chairman in the United States. While having consistency and stability in our party has been a tremendous asset, I believe there comes a time when a change in the chairmanship is beneficial and that time has come. Change will be good for our party and good for me personally.

The challenges brought forth by the three ballot counts and five lawsuits in the Governor’s election contest challenge were very intense and draining to me. Although Governor Gregoire’s victory and the part I was able to play in her election will always be a highlight of my life, I believe it is best for me to have a change of pace at this time. I can honestly say that I have been able to get up and enthusiastically meet the challenges of the state party every day that I have served as your chair. But, I believe that a new perspective and some fresh energy will add to the momentum that I sense is building for the 2006 election cycle. The state party chairmanship is a tough job. You deserve a leader who is at the top of their game at all times.

I am passionate in my belief that we are poised to win many great victories in 2006. Maria Cantwell will be strong heading into this election year. I am willing to wager today that our party will pick up many Congressional and state legislative seats in the mid-term election. I believe it is only fair to my successor to leave at a time when more victories are possible in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.

Together we really have been able to make a difference:

* We elected Chris Gregoire after the most heavily fought election contest in US history. We won after three counts and five lawsuits. We became an inspiration to national Democrats yearning for our party to stand up and demand that every legitimate vote be counted.


* We reformed the state primary election system. For the first time in my lifetime, Democrats can choose the candidates who will fight for and address their issues in a Primary election.

* We have the best record of electing Democrats of any state Union.
o We defeated Slade Gorton and elected Maria Cantwell.
o We won four Congressional seats.
o We won majorities in both the State House and Senate.

* We have developed a larger, more complex staff organization which includes professional data base, web design, fundraising, field and compliance professionals.

* We have developed a one of a kind voter file data base that is the only state voter file that can be accessed by grassroots precinct workers for the important work they are doing in their communities.

* We have rebuilt the grassroots of our party, adding thousands of Precinct Committee workers to our membership in the past decade.

As we elect a new State Chair, please know my primary concern is that the members of the state committee have the ability to choose among good candidates. Given good choices, the party leaders of our state will make the right choice every time.

Over the next six weeks I intend to work to resolve whatever issues remain as a burden to the party. There remains a large legal debt from the successful Governor’s election contest. Please know that I hope to see it reduced substantially by the time I depart in January. I will be available to work with the new chair for a smooth transition.

You may want to know I will do next. The honest answer is that I am unsure. For a variety of reasons it has been difficult to enter into serious conversations about future options while I am serving as your chairman. My tremendously supportive family, Beth and Michaela, deserve to have more of my time. When I was first elected, Michaela was only five months old. Today she is in the fifth grade. I want to go to all of her plays, ball games and school shows while she is still in school. I want to cook Beth dinner more regularly. I have missed too many dinners and ball games while on this job.

In closing, I would like to especially thank Karen Marchioro for her mentorship, love and all of her efforts on behalf of our party to make it a party focused on our grassroots and a fully inclusive party. I want to thank David McDonald for his friendship, extraordinary support, his brain power and his constant work as our reform minded legal strategist during the primary election reform battles and the Governor’s election contest. Please know how incredibly grateful I am to you as a party leader and to all the party members in our state who have been such an important part of our work and victories in the State of Washington

Thank you for your good wishes and tremendous support. Together we have built what is perhaps the best state political party in the country. Please give the new chair the same support and good wishes you have given to me.


Paul Berendt

Washington State Democratic Chair

Posted by: Jacob Metcalf | Dec 7, 2005 10:35:42 PM

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