Wednesday, December 07, 2005

''Paul Berendt is out as Democrat's Party Chief'' (UPDATED)

Oy vey, this isn't all pretty. There is the letter from Paul that mentions all the good things as well as the wish to spend more time cooking dinner for his wife, etc. There is also a new story in The Stranger, "Glass Houses," that tells us about a little financial hanky-panky that involved a former staffer. Paul wasn't involved himself, but it occured on his watch. Turns out there is also a new post in The Stranger blog that explains why they think this is a story worth telling. The WA State Dems have done a lot we can be proud of under Paul's leadership.
Thanks to Pike Place Politics for the tip. KOMO News covers the story, minus the issue raised in The Stranger and adds the names of some potential successors, suggested by Paul. Carl at Washington State Political Report posts there and in his diary on Kos, with his thoughts and some background information about some of the potential candidates to succeed Paul.

Update: The Seattle P-I has a story, "Berendt to retire as state chairman of the Democrats." from AP that is pretty much the same as the KOMO one. The Seattle Times has "State Democratic Party chairman resigning" by David Postman. Here a taste:

"During his tenure Berendt helped the party retake control of the Legislature, put a Democratic majority in the state's congressional delegation and give the state two Democratic U.S. senators.

He also helped make former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean chairman of the Democratic National Committee and teamed up with his rival, state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance, for a legal challenge to the state's primary-election system.

He said the "crowning event of my chairmanship" was the hard-fought legal challenge to the election of Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire. Berendt was the chief fundraiser for a recount that put Gregoire in office and for the expensive legal battle that followed.

"It was just an epic event," he said.

But it also left the party deeply in debt, by about $600,000. Berendt said he wants to cut the debt at least in half before he leaves. Some prominent Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, were particularly unhappy with Berendt's early and ardent support of Dean in last year's Democratic presidential caucus.

Talk about Berendt's departure popped up this week after The Stranger reported on its blog that Berendt was the topic of gossip at the state Democrats' Christmas party. Berendt says he has been talking to people about leaving and urging some Democrats to consider replacing him."

Andrew at Northwest Progressive Institute is first out of the gate with his endorsement, before any candidates have even formally declared.

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