Democrats: Henderson installed as party chairman with no formal opposition

Thurston County Democrats have shuffled their leadership lineup after their successful run in the Nov. 2 election, elevating Stew Henderson to party chairman.

Henderson, a management consultant with a knack for fundraising, was the runner-up Democrat in the 22nd district behind Rep.-elect Chris Reykdal in a race to fill retiring Rep. Brendan Williams’ seat this fall.

The vote for party chairman came during a reorganization meeting Monday. Henderson replaces Jim Cooper, who stepped down after a two-year term.

“I really have two goals in office,” Henderson said Friday. “The first one is to get all our systems in place for 2012 and have a great get-out-the-vote effort and increase the number of PCOs, that sort of thing. The second is to make sure everyone who comes in the door feels welcome.”

Henderson said Cooper and outgoing state committeewomen encouraged him to run.

There was no formal competition for the various party positions, and Democrats, who are the county’s dominant party, came away from the November election in good shape. Reykdal easily defeated GOP candidate Jason Hearn in the 22nd, which serves north Thurston County, and Democratic Reps. Kathy Haigh and Fred Finn both won re-election in the 35th District, which serves Mason County and parts of west Thurston, Grays Harbor and Kitsap counties.

The new Thurston Democratic lineup is:

First vice chair: Liberty Ryder, who remains in the position and will oversee membership and PCO efforts.

Second vice chair: K.D. Chapman, who will oversee campaign services.

Secretary: Seamus Walsh, who managed Cheryl Crist’s 3rd District congressional campaign.

Treasurer: Christine Garst, an accountant veteran treasurer for many campaigns.

State committeewoman: Elizabeth Shepard, who returns to the position.

State committeeman: Roger Erskine, who remains in the position.

Committee member at large: Cheryl Selby, owner of a downtown Olympia business; she will be involved in fundraising with the party’s annual Kennedy dinner.

Committee member at large: Mizanur Rahman, who will be in charge of the party’s burger booth at Lakefair.

Henderson said the new group is impressive and reflects a broad party base, although none of the officers are from the south county area. But he said the party plans to build its network in that part of the county.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 bshannon@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/politicsblog