The King County Republican Party has nominated former State Senator Dino Rossi, Kirkland City Councilmember Toby Nixon, and perennial legislative candidate Joel Hussey to succeed Andy Hill, per a tweet from Republican consultant Brett Bader, who we’re guessing attended the party’s nominating meeting today.
Rossi, fifty-seven has served multiple stints in the Washington State Senate and will most likely be who the King County Council appoints to fill the vacancy. Rossi has said he would not run to hold the seat, but would instead serve as a caretaker.
Rossi has run three failed campaigns for statewide office: in 2004 (for Governor), in 2008 (again for Governor), and in 2010 (for U.S. Senate). He lost those campaigns to Chris Gregoire and Patty Murray. In 2012, after Cheryl Pflug resigned her Senate seat, Rossi was tapped to serve out the remaining months of Pflug’s term. (Democrat Mark Mullet succeeded Rossi as the district’s senator in January of 2013; Mullet is currently on track to win a second four-year term.)
Nixon is a Kirkland City Councilmember who previously served as State Representative for the 45th. A decade ago, Nixon ran for state Senate to succeed the departing Bill Finkbeiner, but was defeated by Eric Oemig, who lost his bid for a second term four years later to Andy Hill. Nixon then tried to get his state House seat back in the 2008 cycle, running against Roger Goodman, the man who’d taken his place, but Goodman prevailed and has continued to win every cycle since.
Joel Hussey is one of the Republicans Goodman has vanquished in those subsequent cycles. He was Goodman’s fourth opponent (after Jeffrey Possinger, Nixon, and Kevin Haistings). Hussey garnered 43.54% of the vote in 2012 against Goodman and 45.01% in a 2014 rematch. Goodman this year faced Sammamish City Councilmember Ramiro Valderrama, who is getting a paltry 38.09%.
Because the 45th’s boundaries are entirely within King County, the King County Council has the final say over who will be appointed. However, the Council must choose from among Rossi, Nixon, or Hussey, per Article II, Section 15 of the Washington State Constitution. If the Council fails to act in a timely fashion, responsibility for making an appointment would pass to Governor Inslee.
As mentioned above, Rossi has said he is willing to take over from Hill for the 2017 session but would not be a candidate in the special election to succeed Hill. Nixon and Hussey have not made similar public statements to our knowledge, but it’s quite possible they’re also interested in just being caretakers.
The election to pick a successor to Hill will held concurrently with the 2017 local elections next August and November.
Special Senate elections will also be taking place in the 37th, 48th, and 31st districts to fill vacancies left by Pramila Jayapal, Cyrus Habib, and Pam Roach, who will be leaving the Legislature to take other elected positions.