Karl de Who? In Wild Meeting, KC Democrats Choose New Chair
Unruly meeting puts 34th District activist in charge of KC Dems.
You may remember that we wrote a little bit last week about the then-pending contest for chair of the King County Democrats between current chair Steve Zemke and challenger Marvin Rosete.
"For someone who didn't run for chair to be nominated from the floor, and beat out the incumbent, is unheard of."
It turns out that after a kooky five-hour Saturday afternoon of nominations and alternative nominations and hats in the ring and hats withdrawn from the ring, neither Zemke—who's been chair since getting the job in late 2010—nor Rosete got the gig.
Karl de Jong, a 34th District activist and the chair of the King County Democrats Endorsement Committee, won in a scrambled afternoon following a nomination for "anyone who isn't the two running"—which came after Zemke and Rosete were nominated.
That obvious protest nomination opened the floodgates: Michael Maddux, the 43rd District's rep on the King County Democrats' Central Committee; de Jong; Scott Forbes, the 43rd District Chair; and the only woman to get nominated, Omaha Sternberg, the 33rd District Chair, all got nominations.
"I've never seen anything like this," Maddux says. "Normally, re-orgs are very well planned and more of a formality. For someone who didn't run for chair to be nominated from the floor, and beat out the incumbent, is unheard of in my memory."
After Zemke and Rosete spoke, Maddux withdrew his nominations and endorsed de Jong, which prompted Rosete to withdraw and endorse de Jong. Then de Jong spoke, surprsing many by not withdrawing. Insead, he made an effective nuts and bolts speech (and evidently a dig at Zemke), saying: "I can run a meeting, follow a budget, and play well with others."
Forbes then withdrew and endorsed de Jong. Sternberg stayed in.
On the first round of voting, Zemke and de Jong tied with 74 votes a piece, and Sternberg came in a distant third. She then withdrew and endorsed de Jong. On the follow-up vote de Jong won, but just barely—91-86.
But it wasn't over yet. There were more votes (177) than there were credentialed voters (175). State Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33, Des Moines), who was chairing the meeting, ruled that the disparity didn't change the outcome—and after no one contested the result, de Jong was officially made new chair of the King County Democrats.