Tim Eyman’s right, you know, Dwight Pelz does enjoy throwing bombs – and he’s so damn good at it. Indeed, state Democrats are sure to miss their fiery leader, who has decided to ride into the sunset on Feb. 1 after seven years rumbling with Republicans. He’s 62 now, and plans to travel the world for a couple of years before he figures out his next step. Politics in his blood, so he may get back into the game when he returns. It’s hard to imagine a successor more colorful, and political reporters will definitely miss those blazing bursts of profanity when he’s going after Republicans, particularly those who he believes have veered too sharply to the right side of the road.
As Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly reflects, “The life of the party under Dwight Pelz has never been dull. He rose as leader of The Light Brigade, a consumer group that protested soaring costs of the Washington Public Power Supply System’s nuclear plants in the early 1980s. The Brigade broke out champagne at one meeting where WPPSS mothballed a reactor.”
“We’ve built a good political party. I have no regrets,” Pelz tells Seattle Weekly. “The [Jay] Inslee race was the most satisfying. That was a nail-bitter,” he adds of last year’s gubernatorial showdown with Rob McKenna, a race in which the state party poured a record $3 million into.
In fact, Democrats drew a near straight flush in 2012, winning every statewide office, save Secretary of State. They also hold six of the state’s 10 congressional seats and have owned the U.S. Senate since Maria Cantwell joined Patty Murray in the Upper Chamber in 2001.
Asked why Democrats have wielded such statewide dominance the past several election cycles, Pelz says of the state GOP, “They have a very weak bench. I’ve been asked about what kind of farm team they have, and I say, ‘They don’t have a farm team. They have a farmer and that’s McKenna.”
The only Republicans Pelz can envision having any chance of someday capturing a statewide office is Rep. Dave Reichart (“who will never pull the trigger and run”) and state Sen. Andy Hill, a moderate Eastside lawmaker.
On Feb. 1, 160 members of the state central committee will gather in Vancouver to elect a new party chairman.
“On election night in 2011,” Brunner reported, “Pelz compared Eyman to herpes. ‘Just when you think it’s gone, it comes back.’” Later, he called him “a self-aggrandizing punk.”
Pelz offered to Brunner this parting shot: “I know it is a cliché to call him a feckless turd, but he really is.”
We asked him if there was anything further he’d like to add.
“How can I top feckless turd?”