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April 27, 2010 at 11:00 AM

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Rodney Tom running again for state Senate

Posted by Andrew Garber

There was a point during the legislative session when people wondered if Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, would run for re-election.

Tom, who help craft the Democrats' budget, turned around and voted against it. He also voted against raising taxes to implement the budget.

The votes prompted Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, to call Tom "a very conflicted individual."

The question his votes raised was whether Tom would have much influence in his caucus if he returned for another term.

Tom says the answer is yes, and announced plans this week to run for re-election.

"What I wanted to make sure is that I could make a substantial impact. I wanted to make sure I would have a role," he said Tuesday. "I feel confident ... that I will continue to play a significant role."

Tom said he's gotten no assurances he'd retain his spot as a vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, but added that he still gets along well with his Democratic colleagues.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said Tom's spot on the committee won't be known until after the election, but noted "We're glad that he's running again. He's still well-respected in the caucus."

Tom was elected to the state House as a Republican in 2002, but switched parties in 2006. He later beat Republican Luke Esser, now the state GOP chairman, to represent the 48th District in the state Senate.

He could face a tough election this fall. The most recent state reports show Republican challenger, Gregg Bennett, has raised more than $156,000 compared to around $36,000 for Tom.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.