Rodney Tom

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Rodney Tom
Washington State Senator
from the 48th Legislative District
Preceded byLuke Esser
Succeeded byCyrus Habib
Personal details
Political partyRepublican
Other political
Majority Coalition Caucus
ResidenceMedina, Washington

Rodney Tom is an American politician, who represented Washington's 48th Legislative District in the state Senate.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Tom earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington in 1985 and went on to earn his MBA from the University of Southern California in 1988. A year later he began a career as a realtor, and remains one to this day, presently affiliated with Windermere Real Estate. He resides with his wife Deborah in Medina. The couple have two children.[2]

Political career[edit]

In 2002, Tom was elected to the state House of Representatives as a Republican by defeating Democrat Connie Espe by a 52 to 42% margin with 5% going to a third-party candidate.[3]

He was reelected in 2004, edging out Democratic Party challenger Debi Golden with a 51.76% to 48.24% margin (1816 votes).[4]

On March 14, 2006, Tom announced that he was switching to the Democratic Party and challenging Luke Esser.[5] This announcement caused no small amount of controversy, as Tom's 2004 Democratic opponent, Debi Golden, had already declared her intention to run for the state Senate in the 48th district, which brought the two together for a rematch of their 2004 race.[6] However, two weeks later, Golden ended her candidacy, citing the expense and futility of a primary battle, leaving Tom unopposed for the Democratic nomination.[7] He defeated incumbent Republican Luke Esser with 53% of the vote.[8]

On July 17, 2007, Tom publicly announced his campaign for the 8th District's congressional seat.[9] He soon ended the campaign and endorsed Darcy Burner (D), who was the challenger to Dave Reichert (R) in 2006 and had a major lead in fundraising.

On November 2, 2010, Tom ran in the Washington State Senate in the 48th Legislative District to win against Gregg Bennett by 52.55% to 47.30%.[10]

In 2012, two Conservative-Democrat Senators, Tom and Tim Sheldon announced they would switch caucuses and join 23 Republicans to form the Majority Coalition Caucus, giving them a 25-24 vote majority over democrats.

On April 14, 2014 Tom announced he would not seek reelection citing health concerns and the need to take care of his father.[1]

On March 29, 2018 Tom announced his intention to run for state senate again in 48th Legislative District.[11][12]


Budget coup[edit]

On March 2, 2012, Tom joined with fellow Democratic Sens. Jim Kastama and Tim Sheldon and 22 Senate Republicans to push through a revised budget bill. It assumes changes in state-employee pension programs that will save the state $133 million in the short term and $2.3 billion over the long haul. Most education spending was spared. He justified his actions by saying, "Since before this legislative session began, the message from my constituents has been loud and clear. Another budget that is unsustainable, relies upon accounting gimmicks and sets our state up for a perennial deficit is simply unacceptable. If we ever want to get ahead of our budget crises, our state needs wholesale government reform and a budget that reflects our commitment to sustainable governing." [13]

Majority Coalition Caucus[edit]

On December 10, 2012, Tom announced that he would caucus with the Republicans to form the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC). Tom became the new senate majority leader.[14]

On February 4, 2013, both Tom and Tim Sheldon, another Democratic senator who joined Republicans to form the MCC, were censured by the state Democratic Party for "gross disloyalty" and "perfidious behavior," cutting off their future access to party funds and mailing lists.[15] This followed separate votes to censure Tom by the 5th[16] and 43rd District Democratic organizations, Democrats in Tom's own 48th District,[17] and the Pierce County Democrats.[18]

Amid the censures, state Republicans urged support of Tom.[19]

On June 29, 2013, the Washington State Senate passed the state budget for 2013-2015. The budget included $1 billion in new funding for education, while providing enough funding for universities for tuition to remain at current levels. In addition the budget ended approximately $600 million in temporary tax increases that affected businesses throughout the state.[20]


  1. ^ a b TVW (24 April 2014). "Inside Olympia: Retiring State Senator Rodney Tom headed the majority coalition that ran the Senate the last two sessions. His stories of leading that caucus". Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  2. ^ Project Vote Smart - Senator Rodney Tom - Biography
  3. ^ "November 5, 2002 General Election". King County Elections. November 20, 2002. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  4. ^ "November 2, 2004 General Election". King County Elections. November 17, 2004. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  5. ^ Postman, David (March 15, 2006). "Bellevue representative switches parties to run for senate". The Seattle Times.
  6. ^ David Postman (2006-03-15). "GOP legislator switches to Dems". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  7. ^ Bach, Ashley (March 30, 2006). "Golden reassesses, quits Senate race". The Seattle Times.
  8. ^ "November 7, 2006 General Election". King County Elections. November 28, 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  9. ^ Fryer, Alex (July 17, 2007). "State Sen. Rodney Tom enters congressional race". The Seattle Times.
  10. ^ "November 2, 2010 General Election". King County Elections. October 21, 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Statement on Former State Senate Leader Rodney Tom". Planned Parenthood. March 29, 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  12. ^ John Stang (25 April 2018). "Rodney Tom's Centrist Dance". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  13. ^ Erik Smith (2012-03-02). "Backfire! – Senate Democrats' Effort to Pass a Partisan Budget Results in Takeover From the Middle". Washington State Wire. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
  14. ^ Rodney Tom and Mark Schoesler (2012-12-16). "Op-ed: State Senate's new Majority Coalition Caucus will govern across party lines". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  15. ^ Joel Connelly (2013-02-04). "Gross disloyalty: Democrats censure Tom, Sheldon". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  16. ^ "5th District Democrats censure two Democratic senators". Voice Of The Valley. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  17. ^ Dominic Holden (2013-01-16). "Democrats Further Repudiate Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Traitor)". The Stranger. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  18. ^ Jordan Schrader (2013-01-15). "Pierce County Democrats back senators' censure". Morning News Tribune. Archived from the original on 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  19. ^ Andrew Garber (2013-01-14). "State GOP urges support for Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  20. ^ Michael Sarko (2013-07-11). "Breaking down the state budget". The Capitol Hill Times. Retrieved 2013-07-16.

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