After 11 years in office, Paul Berendt has announced this week his resignation fr0m the chairmanship of the Washington State Democrats. Being Chair of a political party particularly the Democrats puts you in a rather odd position. You are elected by the rank and file, but you have to appeal to the big donors (yes there are wealthy Democrats) as well. Paul was able to successfully bridge this gap, as evidenced by his long tenure.
The State Chair is elected by the Washington State Democratic Central Committee. At the time of Paul's election the party was in shambles. "Hot talk" radio was resonating throughout the nation and the "Contract With America" coattails had provided for big victories across the nation and in Washington State. Even Speaker Of The House Tom Foley was turned out of office. Since Paul has been in his position, the Democrats have really only lost one position, the 2004 race for Attorney General.
The Democratic party has made inroads in the once solid Republican Eastside and has voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate each time in the Berendt administration.
Washington has gone from being a swing state to a "Blue" state. Paul's administration was not without controversy amongst his partisans, but everyone agrees that he is a fighter. It was in 2004, that may have been his most disappointing year that saw his most satisfying victory, the election of Christine Gregoire in the closest election in American history.
I got to know Paul from 4 years helping represent the 5th District on the State Central Committee. Paul has always been enjoyable to work with and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors