Pelz stepping down as leader of state Democratic Party

Washington Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz announced today he will retire in February, one year before his current term expires.

Pelz, 62, who is in his seventh year as party leader, delivered the news to key Democrats today. He told them his intention is to serve until the next meeting of the Democratic state committee which is Feb. 1.

Pelz’s political journey began in 1975 and included stops in the state Legislature and the King County Council. He became party leader in 2006 and was elected to his first full term in 2007. He won re-election in 2009, 2011 and again in January.

He relishes winning and boasts of an unbeaten mark in signature statewide contests while in power. Of all the contests in his tenure, he called Jay Inslee’s victory as governor the “sweetest.”

“People said we wouldn’t win it,” he said.

Close behind – thumping Republican Dino Rossi when he ran for governor in 2008 and U.S. Senate in 2010.

Inslee issued a statement from his gubernatorial office today.

“Dwight has been a fantastic leader for Washington state, as a legislator, King County Council member and as party chairman,” the statement began. “He is tough, committed, as bright as they come and cares deeply about our state. Dwight never backed down from a fight and from the many, many conversations we’ve had, I know he cares deeply about the issues that families in Washington care about. He’s been good for the entire state and I thank him for his service.”

Pelz said he plans to travel the world for a couple years, maybe starting with Laos, and then consider re-entering the political arena.

His decision comes weeks after the state Republican Party completed a leadership change of its own with Susan Hutchison chosen to replace Kirby Wilbur who left for a job in Washington, D.C.

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