State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and House Finance Com­mit­tee Chair Reuven Car­lyle announced today in a Face­book post­ing that he will be a can­di­date to suc­ceed Jeanne Kohl-Welles as State Sen­a­tor from the 36th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict lat­er this year if Kohl-Welles is suc­cess­ful in win­ning elec­tion to Lar­ry Phillips’ coun­ty coun­cil seat.

“As we move clos­er to the gen­er­al elec­tion, it is increas­ing­ly like­ly the wise vot­ers will send my gra­cious, inde­fati­ga­ble seat mate Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles to serve on the King Coun­ty Coun­cil,” Car­lyle not­ed. (Kohl-Welles only has one oppo­nent, who she is expect­ed to trounce in November).

“This would leave a vacan­cy for Sen. Kohl-Welles’ Sen­ate seat pri­or to the 2016 ses­sion. I’ve reflect­ed on the options and decid­ed that change, on a per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al lev­el, can be healthy and con­struc­tive. After sev­en years in the House, I plan to seek appoint­ment to the prob­a­ble Sen­ate vacancy.”

“If you are a PCO in the 36th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, I will reach out direct­ly at the appro­pri­ate time to respect­ful­ly ask for the hon­or of your sup­port. There are no less than six high­ly qual­i­fied, pas­sion­ate, engaged com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers in our dis­trict who have expressed a for­mal inter­est in being appoint­ed to my seat in the House. Serv­ing as a cit­i­zen leg­is­la­tor and rep­re­sent­ing the good peo­ple of our dis­trict and state is a pro­found­ly mov­ing hon­or. Thank you!”

Car­lyle’s announce­ment imme­di­ate­ly drew accolades.

“I wish to offer my seat­mate, State Rep. Reuven Car­lyle, a pub­lic and pro­found thanks for all your work on behalf of the peo­ple of the 36th Dis­trict and Wash­ing­ton State as our Rep­re­sen­ta­tive,” said Car­lyle’s seat­mate Gael Tar­leton, who serves as Vice Pres­i­dent-Sec­re­tary of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute.

“Your devo­tion to fos­ter chil­dren, pub­lic edu­ca­tion, fair and trans­par­ent tax policy,and treat­ment for those suf­fer­ing from men­tal ill­ness­es has changed our com­mu­ni­ties for the bet­ter. Thank you for being will­ing to keep up the fight for all of us by seek­ing the appoint­ment to the State Sen­ate in the very like­ly event that the vot­ers choose the thought­ful, unstop­pable Sen­a­tor Jeanne Kohl-Welles to be our voice on the King Coun­ty Coun­cil this November.”

“I am so hon­ored to rep­re­sent the 36th Dis­trict in the State House and will look for­ward to serv­ing in the House with whomev­er is appoint­ed as representative.”

Six can­di­dates have emerged as pos­si­ble replace­ments for Car­lyle, who, as men­tioned, will be vacat­ing his House seat to move over to the Senate.

They are:

  • Eco­nom­ic Oppor­tu­ni­ty Insti­tute exec­u­tive direc­tor John Bur­bank, who ran for the seat Car­lyle now holds in 2008 and lost;
  • For­mer Pro­gres­sive Major­i­ty Wash­ing­ton exec­u­tive direc­tor Noel Frame, who ran for state House in 2012 and lost to Gael Tarleton;
  • Attor­ney and NO on I‑1366 offi­cer Randy Gor­don, who suc­ceed­ed Fred Jar­rett in 2010 fol­low­ing Fred’s appoint­ment as Deputy King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive, but was unsuc­cess­ful in his fall cam­paign to hold the seat;
  • Admin­is­tra­tive law judge Jeff Man­son, who has served for sev­er­al years as the chair of the 36th Dis­trict Democrats;
  • Activist Rene Mur­ry, the chair of the Chil­dren’s Cam­paign Fund and own­er of Piece by Piece, a firm that helps peo­ple relocate;
  • Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­er­al Sarah Reyn­eveld, who has worked for the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s office since 2012, and pre­vi­ous­ly as a law clerk.

As the 36th is whol­ly with­in the bound­aries of King Coun­ty, the King Coun­ty Coun­cil has the pre­rog­a­tive to make appoint­ments to fill any vacan­cies in its leg­isla­tive posi­tions. This means that Kohl-Welles will have a say in who suc­ceeds her, as well as who suc­ceeds Reuven Car­lyle in the state House.

In each case, the Coun­cil will be select­ing from a list of three names drawn up by the King Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee (KCDCC).

Although the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion gives the respon­si­bil­i­ty of draw­ing up the list of names to the cen­tral com­mit­tee, in prac­tice, it will be actu­al­ly done by a sub­set of the KCDCC, because state par­ty rules require that the whole KCDCC defer to those of its mem­bers who actu­al­ly live in the district.

A nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus will there­fore be called at the appro­pri­ate time by King Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Chair Rich Erwin. At the present time, there are two hun­dred and five Demo­c­ra­t­ic PCOs who are eli­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate in that cau­cus. Addi­tion­al PCOs may be appoint­ed by the time the cau­cus is called. Only elect­ed and appoint­ed PCOs will have a vote; “act­ing” PCOs who have adopt­ed a precinct will not have a vote.

Car­lyle is a slam dunk for the Sen­ate vacan­cy. The 36th’s PCOs will need to choose two indi­vid­u­als to appear on the list along with him, but they will most like­ly be peo­ple who have no inten­tion of serv­ing in the Legislature.

The real con­test will be for Car­lyle’s seat. The can­di­date who receives the most votes from the PCOs will be list­ed at the top of the list of three and will be a heavy favorite to get the appoint­ment. How­ev­er, the list must include mul­ti­ple names, so three can­di­dates will make it onto the final list to be pre­sent­ed to the Council.

The 36th is one of the most Demo­c­ra­t­ic dis­tricts in the state, so who­ev­er gets appoint­ed will in all like­li­hood become a safe incumbent.

Cam­paign­ing for an appoint­ment is not as resource inten­sive as run­ning for office, so it would­n’t sur­prise me if we see addi­tion­al con­tenders beyond the six indi­vid­u­als men­tioned above step for­ward and throw their hats into the ring.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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