Two want to lead Wash. Senate Democrats

Staff writerNovember 7, 2013 

As Democrats try to retake the majority in the state Senate, they are looking for a new leader.

Sen. Ed Murray won the job of Seattle mayor on Tuesday. Two state senators say they are running to replace him as Democratic leader: Sharon Nelson and Karen Keiser.

Nelson, a former bank executive from Maury Island, is a first-term senator but has pulled double duty this year as one of the top budget writers and the leader of Senate Democrats' campaign committee.

"I think the leadership I provided on the budget this year and actually in this interim for the Senate Democratic committee leaves us well positioned on policy as well as to retake the majority," Nelson said.

The campaign team climbed out of the financial hole left after an employee's embezzlement, but couldn't push Sen. Nathan Schlicher to victory.

Keiser, the top Democrat on the Health Committee, has been a senator since 2001. The former journalist and union communications director from Des Moines said she wants to improve the caucus's communication efforts.

And, of course, retake the majority, which was lost last winter when two Democrats defected. In fact, Keiser stressed she's running for caucus leader, and resisted calling the job minority leader.

No, Keiser said, she's not in denial. "We don't have the votes. But I am not conceding we were elected as a minority."

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