By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
About a month after announcing his intention to run for the ethnically diverse 37th district seat in the Washington State Senate, Eric Liu has made the tough decision of stepping down. Liu is an acclaimed author, former speech writer and politic adviser, and a civic activist.
Liu, who had a slew of supporters and endorsements, would have run against incumbent Sen. Adam Kline, who is in his 14th year as senator and seeking re-election.
So what drew Liu away from what was to be an exciting race?
On his website, Liu wrote, “I have been unable to be both the candidate I want to be and the father I want to be.”
Though his decision is disappointing to some, Liu did not come to it lightly.
“It was really hard to make the choice partly because the campaign has been going so well,” Liu said in a phone interview.
“Things have been clicking and there has been such great enthusiasm in the community. There have been great endorsers and great financial support, and diverse community leaders jumping on board. But when I’ve been looking at my patterns these past months, I was saying no to my family instead of saying no to campaign things. When I started to see that squarely, it was not a hard choice. It was a clear and easy choice.”
Liu said he is thankful for “every donor and endorser who leaned forward to be part of this campaign.”
“I would also like to thank the steering committee and my early supporters and mentors,” he said.
One person that sticks out for Liu, in particular, is his campaign manager, Heidi Park. “One of the most satisfying things about this campaign is being able to see her grow by leaps and bounds,” he said. “That’s been really gratifying. I think she has a great, bright future ahead of her.”
“By far, fundamentally,” he added. “I want to thank my partner, Jena, my daughter, Olivia, Jena’s daughter, Zoey, and my mom, Julia Liu. They’re what it’s all about,” Liu said.
Liu won’t be twiddling his thumbs with nothing to do though. He is involved in the Washington State Board of Education and serves on the Seattle Public Library board. He is a lecturer at the University of Washington and runs the Guiding Lights Network, a Seattle-based organization that strives to restore community and compassion through mindful mentoring and passionate engagement in public life.
As for whether Liu entertains the possibility of running for office in the future, he’s making no concrete plans yet.
“I believe in public service,” he said. “I believe that running for and serving in public office is a good thing. If an opportunity comes later in my life when my parenting responsibilities are much more manageable, running again may be something to consider. I don’t know whether that will happen, but I do know that I have this one shot to be the dad to my daughter that I want to be.”
Other than Kline, the other representatives of the 37th District in the Washington State Legislature are State Rep. Eric Pettigrew and State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos. ♦
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.