In an email last week, state Rep. Chris Hurst (D-31, Enumclaw, Sumner, rural Pierce County), a conservative house Democrat, informed his caucus colleagues that he no longer wanted to chair the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee. The committee oversees criminal justice issues.
Hurst, is a "tough on crime" Democrat who's been critical of the party (he's a member of the conservative Roadkill Caucus) and has often broken ranks. For example, he voted against gay marriage last session and advocates more cuts to social services. He also got low marks—a "green dud"—from the Washington Conservation Voters this year.
Here's his email.
At re-org today a number of members asked me about rumors that I was not seeking to be PSEP Chair again next session. That is true. I made the decision in May and informed leadership of my intent in this regard last June.
Best wishes to everyone and their families for Thanksgiving!
It's odd for a chair to simply give up their committee. We have a call in to Hurst and a message in to Democratic leadership.
UPDATE: Democratic house spokeswoman Melinda McCrady says she beleives Hurst simply "wants to try something else."
The wonderfully-named committee on committees is meeting next week, she says, and as of now, nobody has been tapped to replace Hurst.