King County Council member Julia Patterson announced today that she will not seek reelection when her third term expires this year, sparking speculation about who will run to succeed her. Topping the list, and reportedly planning to announce his campaign early next week, is state Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33).
Upthegrove would be following, almost literally, in Patterson's footsteps: He landed in the legislature after Patterson, a Democrat, stepped down from her seat as 33rd District Rep to run for county council in 2001.
Upthegrove confirms he's "seriously considering" running for Patterson's position. says he plans to spend the weekend "talking to friends and family," adding, "Today is Julia's day."
But Upthegrove has already been working with a political consultant—Winpower Strategies' John Wyble, who confirms that Upthegrove will be making an announcement early next week—and the kind of name recognition in South King County that will give him an automatic advantage over any opponent, Republican or Democrat. (In 2012, Upthegrove defeated his Republican challenger with 70 percent of the vote).
On the council, Patterson helped incorporate the city of SeaTac, chaired the board of health, and advocated passionately, though unsuccessfully, for a ballot measure to preserve public safety and health programs in the county. She also served on the Sound Transit board, where she was an advocate for rail expansion. But she could take contrarian positions on transit—saying at one point, for example, that she might vote against a $20 fee to save Metro service because "I'd be asking my people to pay $20---my poor and working-class people---to subsidize bus service in wealthier Seattle districts." (Ultimately, she voted for it.)
In Olympia, Upthegrove is seen as a measured negotiator who has consistently earned high scores from environmental groups. Upthegrove used to work part-time for Patterson, but currently works as a basketball ref when the legislature isn't in session. If elected, he would be the second openly gay member of the county council (the other is West Seattle's Joe McDermott.)