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Rodney Tom drops out of state Senate race

Rodney Tom and Joan McBride - Courtesy Photo
Rodney Tom and Joan McBride
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

By Matt Phelps

Reporter Newspapers

One of the most hotly contested races in the state has been brewing between former Kirkland mayor Joan McBride and Sen. Rodney Tom for his 48th Legislative District seat. But that political battle unexpectedly came to an end today.

Tom, D-Medina, announced that he would not seek re-election because of personal and family-related issues.

“Since the end of session, I have continued to work through some health issues, but the main reason for my decision is my 85-year-old father who was hit by a car last week while walking in a grocery store parking lot," Tom said. "He's going to require a lot of physical therapy over the next several months and I'm the only son who lives close to him. I have always said that health and family are the most important values and – beyond campaign slogans – I really do try to live by those values."

Tom said that it has been an incredible honor to serve in the Legislature and to serve the people of the 48th District during the past 12 years. The district includes the northern portion of Bellevue along with Medina, Clyde Hill, the Points communities and a portion of Kirkland.

"Working with the Majority Coalition Caucus and serving as the majority leader, has been historic for Washington and an opportunity of a lifetime for me personally," said Tom. "I am very proud to have worked with such talented and dedicated individuals. We have changed how things get done in Olympia by focusing on jobs, requiring a sustainable budget that empowers our economy, and making education a priority with real action from pre-kindergarten programs to the first college tuition freeze in 26 years. The Majority Coalition Caucus has proven that when our public leaders stay true to core principles and to what really matters on Main Street, the people of Washington benefit most of all.”

Tom, 50, became a political lightning rod last year when he chose to caucus with Republicans in the Majority Coalition Caucus, giving the Republicans control of the Senate. Tom, a two-term senator, began his career as a Republican and later switched parties to become a Democrat.

“Sen. Tom represented the values and interests of his constituents well,” said King County Republican Party Chairman Lori Sotelo. “The KCGOP is committed to ensuring residents of the 48th District continue to benefit from an independent voice that understands the needs of the district, and a senator who is willing to reach across the aisle to advocate on behalf of their concerns.”

Tom said that he felt he was in a good position to win re-election despite McBride's strong challenge.

McBride, also a Democrat, wished the best for Tom and his father.

"Myself and my campaign, particularly, hope his father enjoys a quick and full recovery," McBride said.

Tom's departure opens up a door for McBride, as no other candidates have filed for the seat. McBride has already raised more than $60,000, a very large sum for a challenger.

"We aren't going to change our strategy at all," McBride said. "We will work every day and continue to knock on doors. We are not going to slow down. I have always enjoyed campaigning."

McBride said that she continues to gain endorsements from around the area, including Rep. Ross Hunter and Rep. Cyrus Habib from the 48th District, along with many mayors and key council members.

"We are getting a great response and we are raising a lot of money," said McBride.

Matt Phelps: mphelps@kirklandreporter.com

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