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The Impact – Overview of Legislative Exodus; Exit Interview with Longest Serving Member

Mike McClanahan profile by Mike McClanahan

 The Impact – Overview of Legislative Exodus; Exit Interview with Longest Serving Member

However the midterm elections shake out, there will be an exodus of state representatives and senators who currently hold office. All 98 seats in the Washington State House of Representatives are on the ballot this year as well as twenty-six of the forty-nine Washington State Senate positions. 

Around two dozen legislators are reportedly planning not to seek reelection to their seats. Several are attempting to transition from the House to the Senate, some are seeking congressional seats or other state or local positions, and many are leaving the legislature for good. 

That includes the longest-serving member of the current legislature. Sen Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) announced his retirement when his term ends next January. Sheldon has been a lightning rod for controversy during his tenure.

In December of 2012, Sheldon was one of three democratic senators who broke off from the Senate Democratic Caucus and aligned with the Senate Republican Caucus to shift the balance of power in the chamber and create the Majority Coalition Caucus. 

“We wrote a different budget than was then presented by the Democratic party, Democratic caucus and we went on to hold that power for five years,” said Sheldon.  

Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) on The Impact March 30th, 2022

Nearly ten years later, Sheldon weighed in on why he never changed his party affiliation.

“Because I am a Democrat, that’s the party that I chose. You know, I go back to the- Democrats pull that question on me – I say, well, were you at the 1964 Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey? No? I was. I was 17 years old. I had a ticket. It said alternate delegate. My brother had two tickets. We sat in the top mezzanine,” said Sheldon. “But when people ask me, why are you a Democrat? Because I had learned something there, I learned something, a lot about civil rights. I really respected John F. Kennedy. I thought he was the best president we’d ever had. So I have a lot of Democrat roots and it’s a free country. You can put what name you want after your name, what party you want. We don’t have party registration in the state.”   

Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) on The Impact March 30th, 2022

“There’s a lot of pressure to go out and vote the same and you know many bills that come up people say, ‘Well, Sheldon, how are you going to vote?’  – we’ll be in caucus – ‘Are you with us or how are you going to vote?’ I say, no, I want to go out on the floor and hear the debate. I want to hear the argument because many times in a caucus, no matter if it’s Republican or the Democrat, you hear one side,” said Sheldon. 

Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) on The Impact March 30th, 2022

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