UPDATE: We have confirmed that Frockt will suspend his run for Jacobsen's senate seat and run for Rep. Scott White's House seat instead—and Rep. Scott White will run for Jacobsen's senate seat.
Longtime state Sen. Ken Jacobsen (D-46, N. Seattle) is not going to run for reelection this year.
The increasingly conservative (for Seattle) Jacobsen has been an iconoclastic voice in Olympia: He went against Seattle on 520 by co-sponsoring an unprecedented F-You bill with Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10) to take Seattle out of the local permitting process; he fought with the Service Employees International Union over his opposition to regulate payday lending and for collective bargaining rights for child care workers; he supported a sales tax increase with a crew of conservative-minded Democratic senate caucus members; and he's mostly known these days for proposing legislation to allow dogs in bars. He faced a challenge from liberal trial attorney David Frockt, who was running a spirited campaign.
Jacobsen—who is facing health problems with hypertension—agreed to step aside and endorse 46th District Rep. Scott White (Jacobsen confirmed this for PubliCola). We've also heard that a deal was hammered out over the weekend: Frockt lowers his sights and goes for White's House seat with the blessing (endorsement) of Jacobsen and White. (Jacobsen tells us he has not talked to Frockt about this and Frockt's consultant Michael King could not confirm this deal either.)
All of this is expected to happen at this Thursday's 46th District Democrats meeting.
Despite his cantankerous run as of late, Jacobsen—who was first elected as a Rep. in 1982 (then as a Senator in 1998)— is well-liked in the district, known for his tireless door-to-door retail politicking and community events like the righteous annual Raoul Wallenberg Dinner.
In an interview early this afternoon, Jacobsen told us the biggest thing the legislature needs to work on is "re-examining how we govern"—a criticism of the initiative process, which he believes has turned the legislature into a mere "enabler" for people like Tim Eyman. Jacobsen repeatedly came back to Eyman as I asked him to assess his years in the legislature, bitterly complaining that the state Supreme Court ruling in the 1990s that said initiative campaigns could use paid signature gatherers was a fateful moment. He compared it to H1N1, saying it started out as "an innocuous ruling that became a vicious flu."
Jacobsen cited legislation he'd passed early in his career for organic food, and women's sports ("I got into Sports Illustrated!"), and Native American rights, as some of his proudest moments. And he defended his support for a sales tax this session, explaining he liked that it was tied to the earned income tax credit idea, in which low-income people would get money back from the state based on the federal income tax program. (That piece passed this year without the sales tax increase.)
Despite his 86 percent score from the Washington State Labor Council (and his 91 pecent lifetime score), the WSLC did not endorse Jacobsen this weekend. However, they did not go as far as endorsing his opponent, David Frockt. All that is irrelevant now.
The state Senate Democrats issues a press statement after our story broke. We've linked it here:
“After careful thought and consideration I have decided that this year will be my last year serving as a state legislator. Therefore, I will not be seeking re-election to the Washington State Senate. “It has been an honor and privilege to represent the 46 Legislative District for the past 28 years. The job has been wonderful, but at times very stressful. My high blood pressure has forced me to reassess my priorities, especially after it was responsible for a brief stay in the hospital this past October. I’m proud of my work on behalf of veterans, the environment, higher education, holocaust education, gender equity in college sports and helping to solve my constituents’ problems. “This has been the best job of my life, and I’m honored that voters of the 46 Legislative District have supported me for so long. I have strived to serve with dignity, integrity and passion.”
After 28 years of service, Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle, has many legislative accomplishments to his name, including:
The establishment of the Veteran’s Conservation Corps, which provides natural resources restoration training and volunteer for veterans to. The program not only helps to prepare veterans for future employment, but studies have shown working in outdoor settings aid veterans who are dealing with stress and PTSD issues. Sen. Patty Murray recently introduced similar legislation on the federal level
The creation of Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the state’s primary system for salmon recovery. Its work has increased spawning Chinook salmon in the Puget Sound by 84 percent.
Closing the gender divide by requiring colleges to provide athletic opportunities for men and women at the same rate as high school participation. The measure also provided incentives to encourage schools to expand athletic programs for women.