A New Senate Transportation Committee Chair

Tracey Eide

[RSS readers: A previous version of this post was prematurely posted.  See below for the most updated version.]

One bit of good news to come out of the election was a strong showing from pro-transit legislative candidates, particularly those we endorsed.  The more surprising of these, which was actually more of an anti-endorsement than anything, was the defeat of Senator Mary Margaret Haugen by her Republican opponent, Barbara Bailey.  As we outlined in our endorsement, the promotion of a new Senate Transportation Committee chair from a Haugen defeat gave us more to cheer about than anything in Bailey’s transportation platform.

Many commenters rightfully expressed the concern that losing Haugen in the Senate could eradicate a Democratic majority, a risk we were willing to take given the previous majority’s lukewarm attitude towards transit.  At any rate, those fears were allayed after Democratic control was maintained by commanding victories from other Senate candidates, including pro-transit standouts like Jessyn Farrell, Marko Liias, Jake Fey, among others.

Haugen’s defeat means that the current vice-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Tracey Eide, will most likely be elevated to chair, a position that can make the difference between transit legislation passing and failing.  While Senator Eide doesn’t share the same pro-transit credentials as some of peers, her track-record for legislation friendly to transit advocates has been solid.  Most recently, she’s made tangible commitments to light rail expansion southward, even as her fellow South King County legislators cried foul.

While Senator Eide has her work cut out for her, she’s proven to be a reliable vote for transit, and an even more valuable one now given a likely promotion to Transportation Committee chair.  We have reason to be optimistic moving forward– but it will take commitment on all sides of the State government to get Olympia back into the picture.


  1. Brent says

    If any supporters of this blog who are constituents of Sen. Eide are reading this, I encourage you to get in touch with the STB Ed Board. There is much work to be done, some of it before the caucus convenes to elect leadership.

    • lazarus says

      Yes, and HOV-lane hating Sen Don Benton is trailing in the 17th too.

      That one is still too close to call, but it is good news.

      • says

        Not any longer: http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/nov/13/benton-stonier-ahead-tight-legislative-races/

        Originally published November 13, 2012 at 4:54 p.m., updated November 13, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.

        “Incumbent Don Benton once again pulled ahead of his Democratic rival, Tim Probst, in the too-close-to-call 17th District Senate race, according to updated election results released Tuesday.

        “Benton leads by 65 votes, and the Clark County Elections Department still has more than 6,400 ballots from across the county to count. Also, an estimated 200 military or overseas ballots are still on their way in the mail.

        “Currently, Democrats hold a 27-22 majority in the Senate. If Benton wins, that Democratic majority would be knocked down to 26-23. There are also a couple of philosophically conservative Democrats in the Senate who could tip that balance by siding with Republicans on certain political issues.”

  2. Greg says

    I don’t believe it’s such a sure thing that Sen. Eide will be the transportation chair. With the departure of the Majority Leader, Lisa Brown, Eide, who has been the Democratic Floor Leader for a number of years, may well seek a move up the leadership ladder to Caucus Chair or Majority Leader, or remain as Floor Leader. Transportation is a plum gig; many of the majority Ds are certain to be jockeying for the position. It’s tough to guess how it will shake out.

    • cuyahoga says

      I would think that Sen. Eide will have to consider if she wants to continue as floor leader or go for a committee chairwomanship. You certainly can’t do both. Being vice chair doesn’t automatically make you a shoe in for chair. With Sen. Murray being named majority leader and other senators moving on to other things there are four committee chairs up for grabs not to mention the vice chair spot for ways and means. I think there is a great potential for a bigger committee shake up.

  3. Seattleite says

    Who is half of this sentence crossed out?

    At any rate, those fears were allayed after Democratic control was maintained by commanding victories from other Senate candidates, including pro-transit standouts like Jessyn Farrell, Marko Liias, Jake Fey, among others.

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