Washington State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz, a liberal crusader, announced today that he'll step down early next year.
Pelz, an outspoken, rambunctious frontman for the Democrats since 2006, has overseen his party through a series of convincing wins: former Gov. Chris Gregoire's reelection in 2008, Gov. Jay Inslee's win last year (over the formidable Republican Rob McKenna), now-U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene's big win in the redrawn 1st Congressional District, along with the reelections of Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.
Those big wins, solidifying Washington as a deep blue state during the Obama era, were coupled with other Democratic agenda item victories including gay marriage and marijuana legalization.
However, while the Democrats maintained numeric control in the state legislature, the GOP did pick off a few seats, and, along with some de facto defections, took control of the state senate this year. Additionally, 2010's big tax repeal measure along with last year's charter schools win kept Pelz from totally running the table.
His pugilistic counterpart, GOP state chair Kirby Wilbur, resigned earlier this year.
Here's Pelz's press release.
Seattle - Dwight Pelz announced today that he will resign his position Washington State Democratic Party Chair effective February 1, 2014.
In a letter to State Party Vice Chair Valerie Brady Rongey, Pelz stated his intention to serve until the next meeting of the party’s Central Committee, to be held February 1 in Vancouver.
“It has been my honor to serve the Democratic Party for the past eight years.”, wrote Pelz. “I want to thank the Washington State Democratic Party for this, the greatest honor in my 40 year political career.”
Pelz, age 62, was born in Seattle but went to public school in Montgomery County, Maryland, when his father went to work in Washington, DC, for Seattle Congressman Don Magnuson.
After graduating from the University of Michigan, he and Beth Brunton moved to Seattle in 1975, where Pelz immediately began a career in politics. For the next fifteen years Pelz worked as a community organizer for a variety of grassroots groups on a variety of social issues.
In 1977, he and Rod Regan organized the statewide initiative campaign which repealed the sales tax on food.
In 1978 he was recruited and trained as a community organizer by Fr. Greg Galluzzo. In 1979 Galluzzo performed the wedding of Pelz and Beth Brunton, and then returned to Chicago where he later recruited and trained Barack Obama as a community organizer.
In the early 80’s Pelz, Regan, and Gerhard Letzing founded Washington Fair Share, a statewide citizens organization that subsequently evolved into the current Washington CAN.
Pelz was elected to the State Senate in 1990, where he represented the 37th District for six years. In 1997, he was appointed to take Ron Sims' place on the King County Council, representing South Seattle for the next nine years.
Pelz was elected Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party in January 2006 and re-elected in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013.
Dwight Pelz and Beth Brunton have been married for 34 years, and have two children, Karen and Andy, who both live in Seattle.
“I will be leaving this position and taking some time off but not necessarily retiring.”, said Pelz. “I still have a few more miles left on these tires.”