Politics & Government

Schools chief candidate Larry Seaquist changes mind, looks to return to Legislature instead

Former state Rep. Larry Seaquist speaks at a Memorial Day ceremony at The Evergreen State College in May 2015. Seaquist ended his bid to become state superintendent of public instruction Tuesday, filing instead to run again for the state Legislature. Seaquist will challenge state Rep. Jesee Young, R-Gig Harbor, his former seatmate.
Former state Rep. Larry Seaquist speaks at a Memorial Day ceremony at The Evergreen State College in May 2015. Seaquist ended his bid to become state superintendent of public instruction Tuesday, filing instead to run again for the state Legislature. Seaquist will challenge state Rep. Jesee Young, R-Gig Harbor, his former seatmate. Staff photographer

One of several candidates for state schools superintendent is pulling out of that race and instead looking to return to the state Legislature.

Larry Seaquist, a former Democratic state lawmaker, is looking to once again represent the 26th Legislative District, which includes part of Bremerton, Port Orchard and Gig Harbor.

Seaquist filed paperwork Tuesday to run against state Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, abandoning his bid to become the new state superintendent of public instruction. Seaquist had been sending campaign materials supporting his campaign for superintendent as recently as last week.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Seaquist said Democratic party leaders encouraged him in recent days to run for the state House instead. Seaquist previously served four terms in the state Legislature, but lost his seat two years ago in a tight race with state Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard.

Seaquist, 77, said he wants to do what he can to help Democrats keep control of the state House this November. Right now, Democrats hold a narrow 50-48 majority in the Legislature’s lower chamber, while Republicans control the state Senate.

“I do believe I would have been a terrific superintendent of public instruction,” said Seaquist, who filed to run for the House seat as an Independent Democrat. “But you’ve got to have a party in control.”

Young, who has served in the state House since January 2014, said he “always liked working with Larry” during their brief time as seatmates, and looks forward to the race.

“I look forward to knocking on doors and trying to make my point for why I serve the district in a really good way,” said Young, 39.

Also seeking to replace Young is Republican Bill Scheidler, a retired chemist who ran against Young two years ago and lost in the primary.

In the state superintendent race, five candidates remain now that Seaquist is out.

They are: state Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater; Erin Jones, a Tacoma Public Schools administrator; Robin Fleming, a health programs administrator in the state superintendent’s office; KumRoon Maksirisombat, a Seattle Public Schools teacher; and Ron Higgins, a retired engineer and substitute teacher from Richland.

Candidate filing week for local, state and federal elected offices continues through Friday.

Melissa Santos: 360-357-0209, @melissasantos1

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