For the second time in as many days, a Democratic lawmaker has decided to move on from the Legislature and take a job offering better compensation and benefits in Governor Jay Inslee’s administration. Yesterday, it was State Representative Ross Hunter (D-48th District); today it’s Senator Brian Hatfield (D-19th District: Aberdeen, Long Beach Raymond, Longview).
Hatfield, who has been a state senator since 2006, will be going to work for Governor Inslee as sector lead for rural economic development. It’s an issue that he has been continuously focused on during his career as a state lawmaker.
““It’s truly been a privilege to serve the people of the 19th district and it’s with a heavy heart that I leave this office,” Hatfield said a statement released by the Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus on Tuesday afternoon.
“But I will continue to serve the state in a new role and I’m excited to continue my work in rural economic development for Washington.”
“I’m proud of my work to bring jobs and economic opportunity to my part of the state and other rural areas that are too often overlooked,” he went on to say. “Our state is large and diverse, and I tried to focus on a balanced approach that looked out for all Washingtonians no matter where in the state they lived.”
The 19th is one of the few rural legislative districts in Washington represented exclusively by Democrats. The other members of the delegation are Democratic State Representatives Dean Takko and Brian Blake.
From what we’ve heard, Takko is planning to seek appointment to the Senate to take Hatfield’s spot. Senate Democrats will no doubt be pleased by this decision.
If such a succession occurs, it would result in a second vacancy, this time on the House side. Both vacancies would be filled in a special election held concurrently with next year’s presidential election in August and November 2016, when all three of the district’s seats would ordinarily be up anyway.
Word of Hatfield’s plans has been circulating for some time now, and several individuals are said to be interested in the open seat that will be created by Takko’s resignation from the House. As the Chinook Observer reports:
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but many political insiders have speculated that State Rep. Dean Takko will move into Hatfield’s spot. Several locals are reportedly vying to fill Takko’s vacancy, including Rossetti, businesswoman Tiffany Turner, county commissioner Lisa Ayers, and local historian Jim Sayce.
The 19th is a multi-county legislative district, so the constitutional responsibility of selecting nominees to fill the vacancy will fall to the statutory Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC), which consists of thirty-nine men and thirty-nine women, one each from the state’s counties. However, the statutory WSDCC will turn to the Democratic precinct committee officers of the 19th to do the actual selecting of names for each vacancy. State Party Chair Jaxon Ravens will soon call a special nominating caucus of PCOs for this purpose.
At the caucus, the PCOs will choose three names to send to the county commissioners of Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Lewis, and Grays Harbor counties, who will have sixty days to make a joint appointment. One of the names will almost certainly be Takko’s. The other two names will probably be Democratic activists who have no intention of serving in the Legislature.
For the House vacancy, three names will also be chosen. The PCOs’ top choice to fill the open seat will be listed first, followed by the PCOs’ second and third choice.
The Democratic Party generally asks that the county legislative authorities respect the wishes of the PCOs and appoint the first-ranked nominee; however, the county commissioners are free to choose any of the three names, as the Constitution gives them the authority to make a joint appointment.
After the caucus is complete, the statutory WSDCC will teleconference and ratify all the names chosen in the caucus. These will then be transmitted to the county commissioners. If the commissioners cannot agree within sixty days on who to appoint, the authority to make an appointment will pass to Governor Jay Inslee.