The significant part of state Rep. Cyrus Habib's (D-48, Kirkland) announcement that he's running for the open state senate seat being vacated by state Sen. Rodney Tom comes five paragraphs in, when he says he's endorsing former Kirkland mayor Joan McBride for the house seat he currently holds.
Fellow Democrat McBride was initially the Democratic candidate against conservative Tom, who caucuses with the GOP. Sen. Tom announced he was stepping down for personal reasons last week.
Shortly after Habib's announcement went out, McBride sent out a statement of her own, announcing that she was switching out of the senate race and now running for Habib's open seat.
This bit of musical chairs looks sexist to some, including those within the Democratic party; McBride—who's also gay—stepped up to take on the formidable Sen. Tom (the Democrats' top prize) while all the other potential candidates, including Habib, played it safe.
The Republican Party, which sank in 2012 due to charges of sexism and the apparent "war on women," have seized on the internal Democratic Party drama.
In a press release this morning—which hit prior to Habib and McBride's switch—the Washington State GOP, headed up by Susan Hutchison, issued the following statement:
Democratic Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride has been running for the State Senate in the 48th legislative district for months. However, Representative Cyrus Habib has now pounced on a perceived opportunity, seeking to throw yet another woman Democrat under the bus. Habib, taking the easy way out, avoided running against Rodney Tom, but now that Tom has announced he will not seek reelection Habib wants McBride to step aside so that a more high-profile candidate (such as himself) can seek the seat.
Asked why she switched, McBride told PubliCola: "I don't want there to be a prolonged battle between two progressive, strong Democrats. I don't want to take away from the important fight to win back the senate. I can do either house or senate," she said, explaining that she'd accomplished her goal of knocking Tom out of the race.
(For the record: Tom dropped out, he says, to care for his elderly father and to address his own health issues, kidney problems that plagued him at the end of this year's session.)
Iranian-American Habib, a Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law grad who works for Perkins Coie, is blind due to a rare cancer. He is a techie Democrat, first elected in 2012, who passed Wired-magazine-style legislation this year allowing crowdsource investing in small businesses.
The pair of press releases from Habib, and then McBride, came from the same political consulting firm—Northewest Passage—which works for both Democrats.