A couple years ago I first snagged an invite to one of those parties where the political and media hoity-toity hang out together over booze and barbecue. I knew of most of the folks there, but knew few of them personally; I was just some blogger and well, I just kinda felt out of place. So I grabbed myself a plate, a beer and a chair, and fell into a long and ranging conversation with a nice, somewhat grandmotherly woman camped out at the kitchen table. I found her easy to talk to and endlessly interesting, but there seemed to be an awful lot of VIPs milling about, waiting to make their hellos, so I moved on.
“I see you met Karen,” one of the hosts said to me later, pointing back at the table where she appeared to be holding court. “Karen who?” I replied. My host looked at me like I was some country bumpkin. “Karen Marchioro,” he said, “… the most powerful woman in the state.”
I have no idea if Karen knew who I was, but I was certainly clueless about her. The name didn’t even ring a bell. I guess I was a country bumpkin.
As Washington State Democratic Party chair from 1981 to 1992, and until her death this morning from cancer, Karen Marchioro helped reshape the party into the powerhouse it has become today. She was 73.