In case you are wondering whether state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown took it personally when three Democrats betrayed the caucus and secretly conspired with the Republicans to orchestrate the budget coup at the end of the recent regular legislative session, this should clear things up:
I have decided not to seek re-election to the 3rd district Senate seat this fall. Returning home two weeks ago, I began taking stock of my twenty years in the Legislature, reflecting on what I have been able to achieve with the help of colleagues and supporters. I decided that, though it is still immensely gratifying to serve Spokane and the state of Washington in this capacity, I am ready for new challenges.
Brown doesn't mention the budget coup in her statement, preferring instead to dwell on her many accomplishments. But it's hard to imagine that wasn't the final straw pushing her toward retirement.
"This is a big loss to the senate, and a big loss to Democrats," Senator Ed Murray (D-Seattle) lamented by phone. "Lisa was one of the few people down there in Olympia who really understood the the nuts and bolts of budgeting," said Murray, the caucus's chief budget writer. Brown is an economist by training, but that's obviously not something much valued in a chamber where half the members seem to take their instructions straight from Grover Norquist.
As the Ways and Means chair, Murray would seem like an obvious choice to replace Brown as majority leader, assuming the Democrats retain control of the Senate. "I haven't though about it," Murray said when asked if he would pursue the post. "The leadership team will be chosen by the people elected in November."
As for the Dems' prospects of holding Brown's Spokane-based seat, they seem pretty good. The 3rd legislative district is perhaps the only Democratic-leaning LD east of the Cascades, and it's likely that one or the other of Democratic representatives Andy Billig or Timm Ormsby will move up and retain Brown's seat.
Still, being forced to defend yet another open seat can't help the Democrats' chances of retaining their tentative control of the Senate as a whole. They can pretty much kiss Senator Jim Kastama's seat goodbye, which reduces the Democratic majority to a mere two seat advantage. That doesn't provide much of a margin of error in what could still prove to be a very volatile election year.