OLYMPIA – Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed will retire in early 2013 after three terms in that office and more than 34 years as an elected official.
Reed, a former Spokane resident and a leader in the moderate wing of the state Republican Party, said Tuesday 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. Democrat Chris Gregoire beat Republican Dino Rossi after two recounts and a court battle with a margin of 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million ballots cast.
“I had good friends (in both parties) who were very angry with me,” he said. “That is part of your job.”
He also battled with the state’s main political parties over Washington’s primary, fighting for the current top two system 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. The top two 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, or to slack off before then. He was treated for kidney cancer last year and said he’s been given “a clean bill of health.”
Reed grew up in Spokane, where his late parents, Don and Geraldine, were active in the Republican Party. He served 22 years as the Thurston County auditor.
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 tenure he went to bat for the State Library when its funding was in jeopardy with the Legislature. The Legislature relented, and put the library under his office, too.
In recent years Reed championed 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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