Washington Democrats opt for new leader

Tina Podlodowski has been elected the next chairwoman of Washington’s Democratic Party, ousting an incumbent who had been criticized by some in the party for what was seen as lackluster results in November.

Members of the state Democratic Central Committee voted in Podlodowski, a former Seattle City Council member and unsuccessful candidate last year for secretary of state, The Seattle Times reported.

Podlodowski beat former chairman Jaxon Ravens. Ravens had held the job since 2014, and was the party’s executive director before that.

Podlodowski racked up nearly 70 percent of the vote. She spoke of Democrats’ losses in recent years of city, county and state legislative seats. And Podlodowski said that even when the party’s numbers were previously stronger in the state Legislature, it didn’t always equate to forward movement on Democratic priorities.

In November, Democrats held on to the governor’s mansion and a U.S. Senate seat, but failed to take control of the state Senate from Republicans.

Democratic losses in down-ballot races also played a role. Democrats failed to retake the state Senate or increase their slim margin of control in the state House.

Even before November, the enthusiasm in the Democratic primary season for Bernie Sanders sent changes rippling through the party.

In the aftermath, the party’s 176-member central committee has seen about two-thirds of its members replaced in legislative-district and county elections in recent weeks.

In his nomination speech, Ravens argued that the party was strong but also emphasized the need to work to elect Democrats across all parts of the state.

“We’ve got to make sure we are supporting Democrats everywhere,” he said.

The state Democratic Central Committee also elected Joe Pakootas of Spokane as vice chairman. Pakootas, chief executive officer of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, previously ran against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.

Pakootas and Podlodowski ran as a ticket.