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State Senate will miss Zarelli's leadership on budget
Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, will not run for re-election to the Washington State Senate. His pragmatic influence in the Senate will be missed.
Seattle Times Editorial
IN announcing he will not seek re-election, state Sen. Joseph Zarelli of Ridgefield leaves Senate Republicans in Olympia without an obvious choice for their budget leader. Sens. Andy Hill of Redmond or Michael Baumgartner of Spokane could do it, though they would have to grow into the job.
Zarelli did. He came into the state Senate in 1995 as a staunch religious conservative almost in the mold of Ellen Craswell. He has kept his religion and dealt with the affairs of state, becoming one of the Senate's most effective pragmatists.
An unusually introverted man for a politician, Zarelli has a mind for numbers, a calm disposition and a habit of honest dealing. And he has been successful with legislators much different from himself.
In 2011, he joined with his counterpart for the Senate Democrats, Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle. The two men, of opposite politics, produced the first bipartisan budget since anyone could remember. In the end, each had to explain his work to less collegial colleagues inclined to second-guess it.
This year the two could not agree; Zarelli recruited three Democratic senators for his budget and staged a coup on the Senate floor. Some of his Senate Democratic colleagues felt sideswiped.
Part of the coup was the passage of a state pension law, a teacher-evaluation law and a four-year budgeting law. This page cheered that effort, and we will miss the man who led it.
Or maybe not. Zarelli is only 50, and if the state were to have a Republican governor next January, that governor would need a budget director.