Thursday, March 23, 2023
March 23, 2023

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Washington Democrats choose Shasti Conrad as new leader

38-year-old is youngest chair in state party's history and first woman of color to serve in its top spot


The Washington State Democratic Party chose Shasti Conrad, the former leader of the King County Democrats, as its new chair Saturday morning.

Conrad, 38, a political consultant, ran unopposed, with the support of Gov. Jay Inslee, both of Washington’s Democratic U.S. senators, most of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation and a passel of other elected Democrats.

She is the youngest chair in the state party’s history and the first woman of color to serve as chair. She is also the first Indian American woman to serve as a state party chair anywhere in the country, the state party said.

She takes over from Tina Podlodowski, who had served as party chair since 2017 and announced this month that she would step down.

Since Podlodowski took over, Democrats have flipped two congressional seats and expanded their majorities in Olympia. They now hold every statewide office in Washington.

Conrad had served as chair of the King County Democrats since 2018. She worked on both of former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and in the Obama White House. She also worked on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.

She co-founded a political action committee, Opportunity PAC, focused on electing Black women to office. It raised and spent about $400,000 in 2020 and 2021.

“I’m excited to work with Democratic leaders from every community to build an unprecedented field operation that will carry the message of how Washington Democrats are delivering for working families to each and every voter,” Conrad said in a statement.

On Monday, Caleb Heimlich was reelected chair of the state Republican Party. Heimlich, 37, has worked for the state party since 2011 and has been chair since 2018. He faced a challenge this year from Keith Swank, a Seattle police captain and repeat congressional candidate.

“The Republican Party is the party fighting for all people. I am honored to serve as its chairman,” Heimlich said in a statement.

Heimlich was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.