UPDATED: BIAW names Losey to replace McCabe as leader

The OlympianJanuary 3, 2011 

A building-industry leader from the Tri-Cities took over Jan. 1 as interim leader of the rough-and-ready Building Industry Association of Washington. Jeff Losey replaces executive vice president Tom McCabe who resigned last month after negotiating a $1.25 million compensation package.

Here is the BIAW's announcement today about the personnel change and here is its news release issued last month about McCabe's plan to leave. Today’s piece says Losey will take McCabe's role on an interim basis as well as continue as executive officer leading the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities, and it quotes Losey as saying:

"We want to assure our members and the public that the BIAW will continue to operate and be a strong force in the state of Washington, working to serve as the voice of the housing industry."

As we reported last month, McCabe was to be paid $1.25 million. He left after a simmering conflict with the builders association representing King and Snohomish counties and fines paid over its political spending.

Some observers close to the BIAW have said the organization – known for its almost brawling, bare-knuckle political action style – won't be the same again without McCabe at the helm. Some members had apparently sought a less confrontational approach to politics in the Democrat-controlled statehouse.

Under McCabe, the BIAW grew from a small trade organization to one of the most prominent conservative groups in state politics, and it was often feared for its style of pummeling political opponents in ads. It played prominent roles in Supreme Court races in 2002 and 2006 and in Dino Rossi's two runs for governor in 2004 and 2008, including work to uncover illegal felon votes cast in the first loss to Gov. Chris Gregoire.

BIAW, which described itself as the second largest state association affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders, also has had one of the largest, active lobbying teams in Olympia.

It had been embroiled in a lawsuit it eventually won over its insurance-safety program that proved costly. It also sponsored a worker's compensation initiative that voters rejected on Nov. 2.

Along with Losey, the builders announced they were naming Art Castle, the retired executive leader of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, as interim assistant executive vice president, and Jan Rohila, as interim operations manager. Rohila has been with BIAW. The BIAW also has a new incoming president, Patrick McBride, who has ties to the King-Snohomish builders group.

Other BIAW newcomers: Kevin Patrick, first vice president, from Yakima; Scott Rainwater, second vice president, Burlington; Audrey Borders, secretary, Bellingham; Jim Blair, treasurer, Wenatchee; Matthew Clarkston, immediate past president, of the Vancouver area.

McCabe and other leaders at BIAW did not return phone calls last month about his departure. But Jim Boldt of Washington State Wire has speculated in this column about McCabe's future as leader of a hard-hitting, conservative political affairs firm.

Certainly, it's hard to imagine McCabe is tired of the fight – or that his friends would want him to quit.

UPDATES on original 4:15 p.m. post on Jan. 3: Here is the link to today's print story and photo of Jeff Losey.

Also, former BIAW lobbyist Amy Brackenbury said today in an email that the association's "entire legislative, political, legal and PR staff is gone" after McCabe's departure, and that was why Losey could not say who is to represent BIAW in the next legislative session.

I guess we stay tuned again.

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