Dwight Pelz, a former state senator and King County councilman, will step down as chairman of the state Democratic Party in February.
Pelz notified party officials Monday that he plans to resign after eight years as chairman, allowing the central committee to pick a new chairman at their February 1 meeting in Vancouver.
Pelz got his start in Washington politics with an initiative campaign to repeal the sales tax on food, and later trained as a community organizer. He was elected to the state Senate in 1990, and resigned in 1997 to take an appointment to the King County Council. Elected state chairman in 2006 to replace Paul Berendt, he was re-elected in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
During that time, Democrats won the major statewide races for governor and U.S. Senate. But last year they did lose control of the state Senate after a Democratic challenger failed to knock off incumbent GOP Sen. Don Benton in a Vancouver district, and two disaffected Democratos joined with the chamber's 23 Republicans to form the Majority Coalition Caucus.
In a press release, Pelz said he will be "taking some time off but not necessarily retiring."