Stymied by redistricting, Liias scraps run for Congress

EDMONDS — With his bid for Congress thwarted by redistricting, Democratic state Rep. Marko Liias of Edmonds has decided to pursue a longer career in the state Legislature and will seek re-election this November.

Liias already spent five months actively campaigning for what he envisioned would be an open competition to fill a vacant 1st Congressional District seat.

But the state Redistricting Commission shocked him when it issued a final map last week that left Edmonds out of that district, which U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., is vacating to run for governor. It does include Lake Stevens, Mill Creek, Arlington and the rest of east Snohomish County along with parts of King, Whatcom and Skagit Counties.

Instead, commissioners drew a sliver of south Snohomish County, including Edmonds, into the district served by powerful Seattle incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.

“I expected some of the area I now represent in the Legislature to be in the congressional district. I didn’t expect such a radical redistricting proposal that has me in the same district as Congressman Jim McDermott,” Liias said Tuesday.

“I’ve decided to stick with what I know and that is representing the 21st (District),” said Liias, 30, who has been in office since January 2008.

His decision scuttles the plans of Darrell Chapman, a fellow Democrat and political ally, who had been vying to succeed Liias in the Legislature.

Chapman started his 2012 campaign in September, weeks after Liias kicked his congressional campaign into gear and said he would forgo re-election to focus on that effort. As of Tuesday, Chapman had raised $10,583 and had no Republican opposition.

Chapman said he’ll pull out rather than challenge his friend.

“I would never run against him,” he said. “I made it very clear to Marko that you never attack a friend. I’m terribly disappointed. I really wanted to compete for this job.”

Liias and Chapman spoke about the situation after the commission released its proposed map of congressional districts Dec. 28.

“He was incredibly gracious in the conversation,” Liias said.

Avoiding an intraparty scrap in the primary is good news for the leader of the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

“Certainly having two Democrats going against each other is not my preference and I would certainly have let them know,” party chairman Bill Phillips said before learning of Chapman’s decision.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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