Voters in Washington’s 1st Congressional District will choose a successor to Jay Inslee for the final weeks of his two-year term.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, with the support of Secretary of State Sam Reed, announced Monday that she is calling a special election to coincide with the regularly scheduled Aug. 7 Top 2 Primary and the Nov. 6 General Election.
Democrat Inslee, a 15-year veteran of Congress, resigned effective March 20 to devote full time to his bid for governor.
The governor said “It is important that the people of the 1st District have representation, especially in December when key votes on matters that affect our state may need to be cast,” including sales tax reform and deductibility of sales taxes.
The timeline: Filing Week opens May 14. All 1st District candidates may run for both the short term and the full two-year term that begins Jan. 3. The Top 2 Primary has a ballot postmark deadline of Aug. 7. The General Election has a postmark deadline of Nov. 6. The election results will be certified by Dec. 6 and the congressman can be sworn in for the final weeks of the unexpired term.
Who votes? The short term is filled by the “old” 1st District in Puget Sound country, the voters who elected Inslee. The full term will be filled by voters in the newly drawn 1st District, a political swing district that extends north to the Canadian border.
Here is Secretary Reed’s statement:
“I support the Governor’s decision to allow voters of the 1st Congressional District to fill the remainder of Rep. Inslee’s term by holding a special election in conjunction with our regularly scheduled primary and general election. This will assure representation for the district when some crucial issues are decided in December.
“The U.S. Constitution provides that the state’s `executive authority’ must issue a writ of election to fill U.S. House vacancies, and under state law, when less than eight months remain in the term, the special election is run in tandem with the regular primary and general election.
“The winner of the full two-year term will be chosen by the voters of the newly redistricted 1st District, but the short term must be filled by the voters of the old 1st District who elected Jay Inslee. Candidates will be allowed to run for both the short term and the long term. There is no requirement that a congressional candidate live within the district boundaries.
“We will work with the affected counties to explain this situation clearly. Again, the old district’s voters will elect the winner of the `short’ term and the new boundaries will be used for the full term that begins Jan. 3.
“If we had attempted to run both the short- and long-term elections in the new 1st District, that quite possibly would have led to the winner of the short term not being seated in the House. That option also would have resulted in some voters not being represented and others having two congressmen for a time. An option of simply not filling the vacancy could have run afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s mandate that the Governor shall call the election. Another option, of having both the primary and general special election held on Aug. 7, could not muster enough support to pass the Legislature. So the Governor has come up with a reasonable solution, and we will all work on voter education so that there is a minimum of voter confusion.”
Read more at the Secretary of State's blog.
Source: David Ammons, Secretary of State's office.