Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom announced Monday he won’t seek re-election, citing family and health concerns.
Tom was one of two conservative Democrats who helped Republicans take control of the state Senate last year, forming the Majority Coalition Caucus. Tom became the new Senate Majority Leader under the power arrangement on the first day of the 2013 legislative session.
Tom’s seat is up for re-election in November. Former Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride, also a Democrat, previously announced she was running against him.
In a statement, Tom said he decided over the weekend to drop his bid for re-election because of a “series of events that have impacted my family and health.”
“Since the end of session, I have continued to work through some health issues, but the main reason for my decision is my 85-year old father who was hit by a car last week while walking in a grocery store parking lot. He’s going to require a lot of physical therapy over the next several months and I’m the only son who lives close to him. I have always said that health and family are the most important values — and beyond campaign slogans — I really do try to live by those values,” Tom wrote in the statement.
Tom, who is from Medina, was first elected to the state House as a Republican in 2002, but switched to the Democratic Party four years later. He was elected to the state Senate in 2010, where he represents the 48th Legislative District.
Tom said serving as the Senate majority leader has been “historic for Washington and an opportunity of a lifetime for me personally.”
Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson said in a news release that Tom “clearly left a mark on the Senate and the Legislature that will not soon be forgotten.”
“There’s no question he will be remembered vividly for his work on both sides of the aisle and in multiple caucuses,” she said.
Democrats currently hold 23 seats in the state Senate, while the mostly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus holds 26 seats. This fall, 24 of the 49 seats in the Senate are up for election. The primary election in August determines which candidates appear on the November ballot.