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Democrats Choose Rep. Jaime Pedersen To Replace Sen. Ed Murray

UPDATE 12/03/13 10 p.m. PT:

As expected, Democratic Party activists chose state Rep. Jamie Pedersen to replace Ed Murray in the state Senate.

Pedersen was the only candidate in the running. He vowed to work to regain the Democratic majority in the Senate and to find new revenue for essential programs.

Pedersen's move to the Senate put his House seat up for grabs.

Three candidates competed for Pedersen's position. Last night, party activists endorsed Brady Walkinshaw, a program manager at the Gates Foundation and a newcomer to electoral politics.

Walkinshaw was raised on an organic farm and is the son of a Cuban immigrant mother. He said he grew up "gay and Latino" in rural Washington state. He vowed to be a champion of the 43rd District's progressive values.

The 43rd District encompasses a large swathe of central and north Seattle. But last night's decision came down to only about 150 precinct committee officers of the 43rd District Democratic organization.

The King County Council makes the official appointment to fill vacant legislative seats. It typically ratifies the party's top choice.

Original post 12/03/13 3 p.m. PT:

Democratic Party activists in Seattle will meet on Tuesday night to nominate candidates for the state Senate seat vacated by Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray.

The King County Council is officially charged with appointing someone to the vacant seat. But local Democratic Party organizations will first weigh in with their preferred candidates.

Only one person, State Rep. Jamie Pedersen, has announced his interest in taking Murray's seat.

Pedersen represents the 43rd Legislative District in the state House of Representatives. It's a seat Murray once held.

Typically, when a Senate seat opens up, a House member in the same district is given first shot at it.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to is excited for Jamie to go to the Senate,” said Michael Maddux, a Democratic Party activist in the 43rd District.

With Pedersen moving over to the Senate, that would open up his seat in the House.

Three people are competing for seat: Brady Walkinshaw is a program officer for the Gates Foundation; Scott Forbes is a Democratic Party activist in the 43rd District; and Cristina Gonzalez is an economist who works for King County.

Pedersen's House seat has an interesting history.

It was once held by Cal Anderson, who was the first openly gay man to serve in the Legislature. Anderson died in 1995. His successors, Ed Murray and Jamie Pedersen, are both gay.

In the race to fill the house seat, “being gay helps,” joked party activist Michael Maddux.

The 43rd district, which includes a big chunk of central and north Seattle, boasts a sizeable gay and lesbian population, according to Maddux, who is also gay. That might help Brady Walkinshaw, who features his partner Micah on his campaign website.

But the choice will ultimately be more complicated than that.

“We’re looking beyond that and it’s more, you know, who is going to be more effective at getting legislation passed that we care about,” Maddux said.

At their meeting on Tuesday, precinct committee officers from the Democratic Party organization in the 43rd District will rank three candidates for the open House and Senate seats. Those lists will be forwarded to the King County Democratic Party and then to the non-partisan King County Council. The Council has the ultimate authority to fill the vacant seats, but it typically approves the party’s first choices.

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