OLYMPIA - On election day, State Sen. Sid Snyder, D-Long Beach, announced he will retire from the Senate this year, two years earlier than had been expected.
Snyder said only one thing could pull him away from his career in the Legislature: the needs of his family. "It's time for me to be with my wife, Bette," said Snyder. "Her unwavering support of me and my career has been a big part of any successes I have achieved. Now, I need to be with her more than I need to serve in the Senate."
Bette Snyder has struggled with loss of eyesight in one eye and recent broke ribs in a fall. Meanwhile, legislative obligations kept 76-year-old Sid often on the road, logging over 43,000 odometer miles in the past 13 months.
Snyder sent Gov. Locke his resignation letter Tuesday morning after telling him of the decision Monday. At a private breakfast Tuesday, Locke "made a strong pitch" for him to stay, Snyder said in an emotional interview. In the end, his decision "was damn near a toss-up," but one in which family considerations prevailed.
The actual date of Snyder's departure from public life remains undetermined but will certainly be before the start of the regular legislative session in January.
His replacement will be named after an elaborate process, certain to include intense politicking in public and behind the scenes. Democratic precinct committeemen and women from the four counties Snyder represents in the 19th Legislative District will meet and choose three candidates.
Then, each of the four boards of county commissioners will make their selection from among the three names provided. This is done without consideration to the county's population, so Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz and Grays Harbor will each have one vote.
If one of the district's two incumbent members of the state House is selected to replace Snyder in the Senate, the same process will be used again to determine that replacement. The two representatives are Brian Hatfield of Raymond and Mark Doumit of Cathlamet, both Democrats.
Snyder said his experienced staff will remain on hand to assist whomever emerges as the victor. He and Bette have no immediate plans for their retirement.
With more than 50 years in and around the Legislature, Snyder's storied career is well-known.
The Long Beach grocer was originally hired as an elevator operator in the Capitol building in 1949. He served as assistant chief clerk in the House of Representatives from 1957 to 1969 when he was elected secretary of the Senate. He held that position until 1988.
He was appointed to fill a vacant seat in the Senate in 1990 and elected later than year. He has been re-elected to the 19th District legislature seat three times. In 1995 Snyder was elected Democratic leader and has held that position ever since, most of that time serving as the Senate's majority leader.
Snyder chose election day to announce his retirement to ensure that the day's results at the polls have no effect on his decision or other people's interpretation of it. "I wanted to do this before we know which party will have control of the House and Senate," he said. "There should be no misunderstanding about why I am retiring. It's about family. It's not about being in the majority or the minority."
The retirement is effective this Friday so that his Democratic caucus colleagues can replace Snyder as majority leader when they meet for reorganization this weekend following the election.
"I leave the Senate confident that those senators who remain and will replace me will keep the needs of Washington citizens first," said Snyder. "To serve in the Legislature is an honor, and I will always be grateful to the people of the 19th legislative district for giving me that opportunity and placing their trust in me."