Rep. Chris Strow of Freeland to quit as state lawmaker

OLYMPIA — Republican state Rep. Chris Strow of Freeland is expected to announce today he is resigning in order to find work closer to his home and family.

Strow, 38, is midway through a second term serving the 10th District, which includes all of Island and parts of Snohomish and Skagit counties.

He said he would submit a letter of resignation to Gov. Chris Gregoire today.

“For the last three years serving the people of the 10th District has been the greatest honor of my life,” he said. “But now is the time for me to focus on serving my wife and daughter.”

Last year, he married Mary Lane, the communications director for Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. The couple have a 5-month-old daughter.

Strow, who was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2006, said he hasn’t accepted a new job but is considering “family friendly” employment that pays a higher salary than a lawmaker’s and enables him to spend more time at home.

These issues were on his mind earlier this year when he pursued a vacancy on the Island County Commission. He later withdrew from consideration and declared he would stay in state office. He had roughly $7,000 on hand for a 2008 election.

“I could certainly see a return to public life one day,” he said. “My family will always be the most important thing to me.”

He said his resignation will take effect in early January. He is announcing it now so a successor can be appointed before the 2008 legislative session starts Jan. 14.

Under state law, because he is Republican, the seat will continue to be held by a member of his party.

Republican precinct committee officers of the 10th District in each of the three counties will meet together to come up with names of three people for consideration for the appointment.

Those names will be sent to a joint meeting of three members each of the Island County Commission, the Skagit County Commission and the Snohomish County Council. Those nine leaders will make the selection at a meeting likely to occur in January.

Strow said he’s backing longtime friend Norma Smith for the seat. Smith ran for Congress in 2002 and narrowly lost to Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.

Democrats had already been gearing up to challenge Strow in 2008. Democrat Tim Knue of Mount Vernon had already launched his campaign against Strow. In 2006, Knue ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor.

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

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