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Sam Reed to retire after 2012

Secretary of State Sam Reed announces he won't run for re-election in 2012 and is retiring at the end of this term, his third in that office. (Jim Camden)
Secretary of State Sam Reed announces he won't run for re-election in 2012 and is retiring at the end of this term, his third in that office. (Jim Camden)

Sam Reed says he won't run for re-election at a press conference today.

OLYMPIA -- Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed is calling it quits after three terms in that office and more than 34 as an elected official.

Reed, a Spokane  native and a leader in the moderate wing of the state Republican Party, said today he will retire at the end of  his term rather than seek re-election in 2012 as the state's chief elections officer, archivist and business registrar.

During his term, he saw the state go from poll-site balloting to vote-by-mail elections and oversaw the recount of the 2004 gubernatorial race, one of the closest statewide contests in U.S. history, which Democrat Chris Gregoire won after two recounts with a margin of 133 votes out of more than 2.8 million ballots cast.

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He also battled with the state's main political parties over Washington's primary system, fighting for the current Top Two primary that allows voters to receive a primary ballot with all the candidates for an office and select any one they want, rather than separate ballots that have only Democratic or Republican candidates. That system most closely resembles the state's historic "blanket primary" that federal courts ruled unconstitutional after a legal challenge by the state parties.

Reed, 70 says he does not plan to become a consultant or seek other work after he retires, but will be available for volunteer service and any assistance his successor or other elected officials might seek.

"Over the next 18 months, I plan to conduct myself in a very robust fashion, not sitting back and sliding down to the end," he said at a press conference outside the press buildings in Olympia.

He said he expects to endorse a candidate for the office, but does not know who that will be at this time. It will be someone "who cares deeply and has a passion for elections and history."

"I'm going to hold off to see who's in the slate," he said, adding he doesen't expect to cross party lines. "I certainly see myself endorsing a Republican."

As secretary of state, Reed is the state's top elections official, as well as the keeper of the state archives and the home of corporate registrations. During his term, he went to bat for the State Library when its funding was in jeopardy with the Legislature.

The Legislature relented, and put the Library in his office, too. In recent years he has pushed for a state Heritage Center on the Capitol Campus in Olympia, which would house the Archives and Library and have some museum-like displays of state history. Although plans were drawn up and money was collecting in a special fund fed by a fee on documents filed with county auditors, the Legislature tapped that fund this year to help keep open the Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane and the State History Museum in Tacoma.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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