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Thursday, March 30, 2006 - Page updated at 12:50 AM

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Golden reassesses, quits Senate race

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Debi Golden has dropped out of the state Senate race in the Eastside's 48th Legislative District, saying her primary contest against state Rep. Rodney Tom would have been "pointless but nonetheless expensive."

Her decision comes two weeks after Tom said he was quitting the Republican Party to run as a Democrat for the 48th District Senate seat against Republican incumbent Luke Esser. Golden had been running against Esser for several weeks and suddenly faced a primary challenge.

Tom also received the support of many party leaders, though Golden initially said she would stay in the race.

She said Wednesday that she had changed her mind. The primary race would have helped Esser's chances of getting re-elected, she wrote in an e-mail to supporters.

Golden, a course designer at Bellevue Community College, narrowly lost to Tom in a 48th District House race in 2004.

Golden's departure gives Tom a clear path to the general election against Esser in the fall. Tom supports legal abortion, gay rights and higher taxes for transportation and will be a good match for the 48th District, said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane.

"Debi would have been a great candidate and a great senator, but it's clear that when you've got a House incumbent, you've got the experience to do the job," Brown said.

The district covers some of the state's most affluent suburbs, including Bellevue, Redmond and Medina. It was once solidly Republican, but in recent years voters have shifted.

Tom has a voting record on education, transportation and social issues that will offer a "clear contrast" to Esser's, Brown said.

Golden said she had received support this year from EMILY's List, the Women's Political Caucus and Progressive Majority, a group recruiting liberal candidates in five states.

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Dean Nielsen, Progressive Majority's Washington state director, said Golden's positions and experience were a better fit for the district than Tom's.

"I think that she was the better candidate for the primary and the general, and I still think that," Nielsen said.

Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or abach@seattletimes.com

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