When Rep. Dan Newhouse left the House four years ago to join then-Gov. Chris Gregoire’s cabinet as director of the Department of Agriculture, he added a new dimension: Newhouse is a Republican with roots in Eastern Washington farming. His family grows hops, fruit, grapes and alfalfa.
But now he’s leaving, because he says that Gov. Jay Inslee wants to go in a new direction and is announcing a replacement hiring tomorrow morning.
Here’s Newhouse’s email to staff today:
I know the past several months have been difficult as we have seen several retirements, a new administration, a federal budget crisis and the constant question on people lips, “Is Dan going to stay?” I came here four years ago excited about the opportunity to not only lead this agency but also to help mold the future of the agricultural industry. Every day I am amazed by the people at WSDA: your relentless pursuit to do the right thing, to serve industry and to encourage each other.
It is with great disappointment that I report to you that Governor Inslee is seeking a new direction for our agency. My successor will be announced later this week. It had been my hope to continue our great work together, to see us through our centennial, to share in the excitement of our leadership development opportunities and LEAN and to help forge a new direction and new opportunities for WSDA.
Each and every one of you are a part of what makes this agency great and makes the agricultural industry thrive. I know that even without me leading the way, you will continue to make Washington agriculture one of the best in the world.
My announcement is a bittersweet one. While I am not ready to leave, I am excited at what the future holds. I’ll be returning to the farm, to Carol and my family but am hopeful that I will be able to continue to be involved in public service in the future. I will continue to serve WSDA until my replacement is ready to take the reins at the end of the month.
I will always cherish the unique experience I have had here and the many people I will always call friend. It has been a privilege.
No word yet on who Inslee is hiring but the governor’s press secretary, Jaime Smith, said the announcement is coming in the morning (Tuesday).
Newhouse said just a couple of weeks ago – in a sidewalk chat with a reporter near the Capitol – that he wanted to stay and continue his work advocating for Washington products and boosting food exports.