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News / Northwest

Sen. Saldaña suspends campaign for Washington lands commissioner

By Claire Withycombe, The Seattle Times
Published: April 11, 2024, 6:06pm

OLYMPIA — The packed race for state commissioner of public lands narrowed Thursday when Rebecca Saldaña, a Democrat and state senator from Seattle, suspended her campaign, citing financial challenges.

In a statement, Saldaña said she believed she was “still the best candidate in the race to take on the Republicans and win and the best person to govern for long-term success.”

But, she continued, she had cancer, and faced a fundraising freeze during the 2024 legislative session, which ended in early March. Saldaña was diagnosed with cancer in late October and began chemotherapy about a month later, she said in early December.

“These hurdles impacted our campaign in finances only,” she said. “I’ve never felt stronger or more clearheaded about my priorities and mission.”

The commissioner of public lands oversees the state’s roughly 5.6 million acres of public lands and leads Washington’s Department of Natural Resources. The current commissioner, Hilary Franz, is running for Congress.

Seven other candidates are still in the race, including state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, Metropolitan King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove and Patrick DePoe, director of tribal relations for the Department of Natural Resources.