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Jarrett to run as Democrat

Weinstein will not run for state Senate seat in 2008

By J. Jacob Edel
Mercer Island Reporter

Representative Fred Jarrett, R-41, said that he would be running for the state Senate next year along with switching political parties. Current Senate representative and Island resident, Democrat Brian Weinstein, announced he would not seek re-election.

“It feels like a divorce,” Jarrett said of changing parties. “The party has become different than the one I grew up in. It didn’t fit the district, and it has become harder to represent as a Republican.”

The reason for the change of political parties, Jarrett said, was because he thinks the state Republican party is moving away from the moderate approach it had taken when he joined in the 1960s.

“I don’t think switching parties changes who I am or what my politics are,” he said.

In a letter signed by Jarrett, he stated that he volunteered for his first Republican campaign 40 years ago. Later, he worked on former Governor Dan Evan’s first campaign. In the decades since, he served as a Republican precinct committee officer, legislative district chair and legislator. He also said that the state faces very difficult problems that cry out for thoughtful, bipartisan solutions. He said issues most important to him are on the Democratic platform, and he finds it difficult they are not important issues to Republicans.

Jarrett said his goals working in government will remain the same, creating 21st century education and transportation systems, protecting the environment and assuring that state government accomplishes its mission effectively and efficiently.

“I have concluded I can work best for the interests of the 41st District as a Senate Democrat,” Jarrett wrote in his letter. “I think I can accomplish more for transportation, education and other important issues confronting our state.”

His close friend and colleague, state representative Judy Clibborn, D-41, agrees that the change is more symbolic. Clibborn said she expected little to change other than the name of his party. She has worked with Jarrett for about a decade and said she was thrilled with the decision.

“The basic thing for people to know is that Fred will serve this district whatever party he is in,” said Clibborn. “He won’t be any different. His views are independent, and Fred reflects the districts values really well.”

Partisan politics have always captured Jarrett’s interests, he said, but his experience serving on the Island’s City Council showed him its disadvantages.

“I found out [serving on the Council] was a different way of doing government,” Jarrett said. “It was very rewarding, being nonpartisan. Partisan government has some real disadvantages when compared to nonpartisan, where there is a coalition to solve a problem. Different sides will shift to do that, but at the state level the minority party is taken out and you lose that viewpoint as a consequence.”

Jarrett was named Public Official of the Year last spring by the Municipal League of King County. The organization that rates politicians and candidates stated that the award was in recognition of his ability to legislate solutions for the state’s “non-partisan” issues.

Jarrett was narrowly re-elected to the state House over his Democratic challenger in 2006, but he said last year’s election wasn’t an influence to switch parties. His opponent, Island resident Dale Murphy, lost 23,323 to Jarrett’s 26,600 votes.

“I won that one, and I thought it was the toughest election I’ve ever had,” he said. “I knew it was a bad year to be running as a Republican, but that is not the reason.”

He ran unopposed in his first campaign for the state legislature in 2000 and again in 2002. He beat Democratic challengers in both 2004 and 2006.

Switching parties has created quite a stir, but most comments have been positive, Jarrett said.

“What’s astonishing about this is in the first 48 hours after the announcement, I’ve received an excess of 600 e-mails of which are running 50-to-1 positive.”

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