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October 3, 2007

State economist may run for treasurer

Posted by David Postman at 8:38 AM

Chang Mook Sohn, the state's chief economist, is considering a run for state treasurer. There's been a lot of talk around the Capitol about that, but when I asked Sohn about it several weeks ago he would only say it was one of many things he was thinking about as a next step.

But I missed this story in the Northwest Asian Weekly two weeks ago that said Sohn is exploring a run. After 23 years in the assiduously non-partisan post, Sohn would run as a Democrat.

State Treasurer Mike Murphy is retiring next year. Already state Rep. Jim McIntire, D-Seattle, has announced he'll run for the job. Murphy's deputy, Allan Martin, has also said he'll run as a Republican.

Sohn would be an interesting candidate. In nearly 15 years of covering him I've never heard anyone suggest any sort of partisan bias in his work, though lawmakers have not always agreed with his forecasts. The complaints were that Sohn was too conservative in his economic outlook. During the state's boom years, some lawmakers took to calling him Dr. Doom.

I wrote a story about Sohn for The News Tribune in 1993. I called him "one of the quietest men in state government." But he also had a reputation for independence from the lawmakers who officially are his bosses on the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. He told me:

"I'd rather resign than become the council's puppet."

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