As now former state Senate candidate Joan McBride told me first thing this morning, “The landscape is going to change.”
And so it has. When I spoke with McBride Friday, the Democrat and ex-mayor of Kirkland was resolute in her intention to duke it out in the 48th, her eyes on the state senate seat Rodney Tom had – just days earlier – unexpectedly announced he wouldn’t be running to retain. McBride - who has no experience in Olympia as a lawmaker - had nevertheless campaigned in the 48th for months, she said, and wanted the fight when no one else did, raising over $60,000 toward the effort to unseat the unpopular Democrat turned Majority Coalition caucus poster boy. She’d earned admiration from many within her party in the process, she pointed out.
However, with Tom abruptly bowing out – citing family and health reasons - McBride was honest, telling Seattle Weekly that “Many, many” democrats had since expressed an interest in the seat. This included up-and-coming state Rep. Cyrus Habib (as PubliCola reported earlier in the day).
Still, as the Easter weekend commenced, McBride was blunt from the kitchen table of her expansive Kirkland estate: The two-term former mayor of Kirkland, with two decades of political experience, said she wouldn’t be pushed to the side for the coveted seat without a fight. She repeatedly referred to herself as “fearless.”
Over the weekend, something changed. Not the “fearless” part, McBride insists, but something. She tells Seattle Weekly this morning that she’s decided to switch her attention to the state House of Representatives - and the 48th district seat Habib currently holds. She’ll let Habib, the budding star Democrat with the Olympia experience, run for the high-profile Senate seat Tom vacated. It’s better this way, McBride now says.
Habib’s intentions were made clear by a statement issued about an hour after I spoke with McBride Monday. “I am running to bring both my legislative experience and our district’s socially progressive yet pro economic growth values to the State Senate, where I know I can make an even greater difference,” Habib’s statement reads.
“I am excited to work with Joan as a colleague who shares my passion for strong communities, good schools and a transportation system that works,” Habib goes on to say.
McBride’s official announcement came 13 minutes later. “I’m proud of the pressure we put on Tom, and will continue campaigning with the same excitement and focus for the House,” the statement reads in part.
“This is the best thing to do for the party,” McBride tells Seattle Weekly, citing Habib’s experience and name recognition.
“I actually think this is a brilliant idea,” McBride says of the plan, which she says was finalized over the weekend. “I want to go to Olympia. I don’t care what my title is.”
I’ll update this post accordingly, and am working on a longer piece on the Senate race in the 48th for Wednesday’s paper.