NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) said to be Trump’s Interior Secretary pick

If news reports are to be believed, Don­ald Trump is on the verge of nam­ing Repub­li­can Con­gress­woman Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers as his choice for Sec­re­tary of the Inte­ri­or. McMor­ris Rodgers has rep­re­sent­ed East­ern Wash­ing­ton in Con­gress for near­ly ten years, hav­ing been elect­ed and reelect­ed five times.

Ms. McMor­ris Rodgers, the high­est-rank­ing woman in the House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship, is expect­ed to be announced as Mr. Trump’s sec­re­tary of the inte­ri­or as ear­ly as Fri­day, two peo­ple close to the tran­si­tion efforts said. Ms. McMor­ris Rodgers comes from Wash­ing­ton, a state with large fed­er­al land reserves, and she also had been crit­i­cal of Mr. Trump at var­i­ous points dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Aides to Mr. Trump did not respond to requests for com­ment.

McMor­ris Rodgers would suc­ceed fel­low Wash­ing­ton­ian Sal­ly Jew­ell in that posi­tion if nom­i­nat­ed and con­firmed by the Unit­ed States Sen­ate. She would also have to give up her seat in Con­gress, trig­ger­ing a spe­cial elec­tion this year in WA-05.

The law on spe­cial elec­tions for U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive is as fol­lows:

  1. When­ev­er a vacan­cy occurs in the Unit­ed States house of rep­re­sen­ta­tives or the Unit­ed States sen­ate from this state, the gov­er­nor shall order a spe­cial elec­tion to fill the vacan­cy.
  2. With­in ten days of such vacan­cy occur­ring, he or she shall issue a writ of elec­tion fix­ing a date for the [Top Two] at least sev­en­ty days after issuance of the writ, and fix­ing a date for the elec­tion at least sev­en­ty days after the date of the [Top Two]. If the vacan­cy is in the office of Unit­ed States rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the writ of elec­tion shall spec­i­fy the con­gres­sion­al dis­trict that is vacant.
  3. If the vacan­cy occurs less than eight months before a gen­er­al elec­tion and before the close of the fil­ing peri­od for that gen­er­al elec­tion, the spe­cial [Top Two] and spe­cial vacan­cy elec­tion must be held in con­cert with the state [Top Two] and gen­er­al elec­tion in that year.
  4. If the vacan­cy occurs on or after the first day for fil­ing under RCW 29A.24.050 and on or before the close of the fil­ing peri­od, a spe­cial fil­ing peri­od of three nor­mal busi­ness days shall be fixed and notice there­of giv­en to all media, includ­ing press, radio, and tele­vi­sion with­in the area in which the vacan­cy elec­tion is to be held, to the end that, inso­far as pos­si­ble, all inter­est­ed per­sons will be aware of such fil­ing peri­od.
  5. If the vacan­cy occurs lat­er than the close of the fil­ing peri­od, a spe­cial [Top Two] and vacan­cy elec­tion to fill the posi­tion shall be held after the next gen­er­al elec­tion but, in any event, no lat­er than the nineti­eth day fol­low­ing the gen­er­al elec­tion.

If McMor­ris Rodgers wait­ed until after March 7th to resign, the spe­cial elec­tion to fill her seat would be held con­cur­rent­ly with this year’s local elec­tions (the August Top Two and Novem­ber gen­er­al). There will be two spe­cial elec­tion win­dows in the first half of 2017, with one being in Feb­ru­ary and the oth­er in April.

Any spe­cial elec­tion held out­side of those already-des­ig­nat­ed win­dows would require extra plan­ning on the part of elec­tions offi­cials.

State elec­tions direc­tor Lori Aug­i­no offered this addi­tion­al back­ground in an email sent to reporters a few moments ago:

There are 427,853 reg­is­tered vot­ers in the 5th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict. The coun­ties locat­ed with­in the Dis­trict are as fol­lows:

  • Asotin
  • Colum­bia
  • Fer­ry
  • Garfield
  • Lin­coln
  • Pend Oreille
  • Spokane
  • Stevens
  • Wal­la Wal­la (par­tial coun­ty)
  • Whit­man

If a mem­ber of Con­gress resigns, the vacan­cy would occur upon the effec­tive date of a res­ig­na­tion sub­mit­ted by the incum­bent to the Gov­er­nor.

If a vacan­cy occurs on or before March 7: The Gov­er­nor may select a date to hold the Spe­cial Pri­ma­ry and Gen­er­al Elec­tion. He must set those dates with­in ten days of the vacan­cy occur­ring.

The Spe­cial [Top Two] must be at least 70 days from the date of set­ting the elec­tion. And, the Spe­cial Gen­er­al Elec­tion must be at least 70 days after the Spe­cial [Top Two] .

If a vacan­cy occurs after March 7 and before May 19: If the vacan­cy occurs less than eight months before a gen­er­al elec­tion and before the close of the fil­ing peri­od for that gen­er­al elec­tion, the spe­cial [Top Two] and spe­cial vacan­cy elec­tion must be held in con­cert  with the state [Top Two] and gen­er­al elec­tion in that year. The 2017 Gen­er­al Elec­tion will be held on Novem­ber 7. For this pro­vi­sion to be in effect, the vacan­cy must occur after March 7.

The reg­u­lar fil­ing peri­od runs from May 15 through May 19, 2017.

If a dif­fer­ent elec­tion sched­ule is set by the gov­er­nor, Sec­re­tary Wyman will set the fil­ing peri­od and cer­ti­fy can­di­dates to the Spe­cial [Top Two] Elec­tion.

Democ­rats already have at least one declared can­di­date for McMor­ris Rodgers’ seat as of this morn­ing: Spokane City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Ben Stuckart.

“The peo­ple of East­ern Wash­ing­ton are tired of a Con­gress that does noth­ing but cre­ate obstruc­tion­ism and fod­der for polit­i­cal pun­dits,” said Stuckart in a state­ment announc­ing his run. “The peo­ple of East­ern Wash­ing­ton are look­ing for a rep­re­sen­ta­tive with laser focus ready to grow our econ­o­my, pro­tect Medicare and Social Secu­ri­ty, tack­le our out-of-con­trol nation­al debt, pay more than lip ser­vice to our vet­er­ans, ensure our farm­ers and job cre­ators can get their goods to mar­ket, and val­ue each per­son for the free­dom, dig­ni­ty and respect they’re afford­ed under the Con­sti­tu­tion. This is what East­ern Wash­ing­ton val­ues.”

Stuckart has been Pres­i­dent of Spokane’s City Coun­cil since 2012. He is well known in the Lilac City and around the Inland Empire.

While McMor­ris Rodgers would like­ly pur­sue awful poli­cies if she becomes Sec­re­tary of the Inte­ri­or, she’ll at least be from around here, so when Sen­a­tor Cantwell and oth­er mem­bers of our state’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion need to lodge com­plaints and protests, they’ll be speak­ing to some­one they know.

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