OLYMPIA — State Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom has hired the spokesman of the state Republican Party as his campaign manager for what is expected to be a tough re-election fight.
Tom said Wednesday evening he plans to run as a Democrat despite the fact that he now caucuses with Republicans and the new campaign manager, Keith Schipper, is a Republican.
Schipper, a 27-year-old who recently helped Jan Angel win the most expensive Senate election in state history, said he formally resigned from his state GOP job last Friday.
The hire may signal how closely GOP insiders plan to work with Tom, a former Republican who joined with them and one other Democrat to form the Majority Coalition Caucus before last year’s legislative session.
The caucus now holds a 26-to-23 majority in the state Senate.
Tom said he does not expect to receive money, volunteers or voter data from either party.
Brent Ludeman, executive director of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, which works to elect GOP senators, said his group “will be neither supporting nor opposing” Tom in November. Schipper’s replacement at the state party did not return a message seeking comment.
Tom will “definitely not” get any support from the state Democratic Party in his bid for a third term, chairman Jaxon Ravens said. The party censured Tom after he formed the Majority Coalition Caucus, and has now made him a top target.
Democrats are coalescing around former Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride.
The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 5 primary election, regardless of party, will advance to the Nov. 4 general election.
Tom acknowledged the race will be difficult.
“I needed someone who could really handle this,” he said. “Keith was the best guy out there.”