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May 11, 2006

End of an era

On the Seattle Times website, Olympia reporter Ralph Thomas has filed a story saying that Pat Thibaudeau will leave the State Senate.  Her departure from the Democratic primary in the 43rd Legislative District leaves Ed Murray, currently in the House, as the only announced Senate candidate.

Thibaudeau has represented Washington's most Democratic LD in the Senate since 1995, following three years in the House.  She had defeated Murray in that 1995 race for the open Senate seat previously held by the late Cal Anderson.  Last week, Governor Gregoire appointed her as the co-chair (with the governor herself) of the newly-created Blue Ribbon Commission to Improve Access to Affordable Quality Health Care, which will seek innovative ways to provide high-quality healthcare to all Washingtonians.  The 73-year-old Thibaudeau has long championed such issues, and her Master of Social Work degree from the Smith College School for Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts will serve her in good stead in this important new endeavor.

Upon her appointment to the new Commission, wags and observers in Seattle and Olympia immediately saw it as Gregoire's offer of a graceful way for Thibaudeau to exit the Senate on her own terms instead of as the loser of a Democratic primary rematch with Murray.  I can't say I see it differently.  Murray is decidedly less of a progressive than Thibaudeau, probably the rightmost candidate running for any legislative office in the 43rd District (meaning that he's merely a moderate liberal), and probably less liberal than the majority of his constituents.  But his impressive campaign war chest, high profile after the last couple of legislative sessions, and Thibaudeau's relatively poor health would have made it difficult for her to hold off his challenge for her seat.

Famous baseball executive Branch Rickey is said to have intoned

Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late.

It seems to me that Christine Gregoire helped Pat Thibaudeau to see the wisdom of that adage.  Thank you, Pat, for your years of service to your Legislative District, and for your future years of (perhaps even greater) service to the health of all Washingtonians.

[cross-posted on my own blog]

Posted by Neal Traven on May 11, 2006 at 03:23 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink


What votes would make you think that Murray is any less liberal than the rest of the Seattle contingent? The only thing that separates Murray from his Seattle cohorts is that he is actually effective at his job.

I am glad to see that Pat has taken this way out - it wouldn't have helped anyone for her to stay in the race.

Posted by: Willis | May 11, 2006 10:38:04 PM

Interesting that you should ask this question. Ed called me up to ask the same thing, about 90 minutes after it was posted. I can't point to specifics off the top of my head; it's more of a feeling.

And it's more than possible that I semi-conflate effectiveness and willingness to compromise with a lesser degree of leftiness. Though I don't necessarily think the reverse (way-left == ineffective) is inevitable.

Posted by: Neal Traven | May 11, 2006 10:48:52 PM

Nice piece. Again, I love this governor for providing such a gentle way to make this happen.

Posted by: Lynn | May 12, 2006 9:17:57 AM

Fair enough. I appreciate the introspection.

Posted by: Willis | May 12, 2006 10:28:50 PM

Perhaps the fact he's been repeatedly cited on the DLC website has something to do with it.

Posted by: Dan | May 14, 2006 10:45:48 PM

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