Kevin Ranker has resigned from the Washington State Senate following recent allegations of misconduct, the Senate Democratic Caucus announced today.
“Senator Ranker informed me today that he has resigned from the Senate effective immediately,” said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig in a statement. “I want to thank Senator Ranker for his service to the state and the 40th Legislative District.
“Because this remains an ongoing investigation, I will wait to comment further until I have had the opportunity to read the investigator’s completed report on the allegations against Senator Ranker. The Senate remains committed to creating and fostering a safe, inclusive workplace for everyone.”
“The process to select Senator Ranker’s successor will begin as soon as possible.”
Ranker’s former legislative assistant Ann Larson alleged last fall that Ranker had created a hostile workplace and made unwanted sexual advances towards her several years ago. In October, the Senate hired a special investigator — Tara Parker of Ogden Murphy Wallace — to investigate the allegations.
Parker’s report is due soon.
“I am deeply sorry for any stress I caused her and I sincerely apologize. I wish her peace,” Ranker said in a brief note to constituents referencing Larson.
“When I was informed of these allegations, I immediately told the Secretary of the Senate that I would fully cooperate with any investigation, and I insisted that an impartial investigation must take place. I have done so.”
“The Senate’s policy on Appropriate Workplace Conduct was put in place to encourage members of our legislative community to have a safe environment to come forward with credible accusations of misconduct and to provide a fair process for the accused,” said Billig in a statement released by the Senate Democratic caucus on the day the existence of the investigation was revealed.
“These are serious allegations which must be fully investigated as we work to ensure a safe and respectful workplace,” Billig added.
“Once this investigation is complete, the Senate will have the opportunity to view the facts of this case in full and act appropriately based on those facts.”
Ranker has now chosen to leave the Legislature ahead of the completion of the investigation. He had already stepped down from his leadership positions in the Senate several days ago; now he is departing the chamber altogether.
Ranker was first elected to the Senate a little over ten years ago. He was reelected in 2012 and 2016 by comfortable margins. The Orcas Island resident and former San Juan County Commissioner made protecting Puget Sound’s orcas one of his signature issues while in the Legislature.
Ranker deactivated his Facebook and Twitter accounts today after submitting his letter of resignation to Governor Jay Inslee.
Ranker’s resignation leaves the Senate Democrats with a majority of twenty-seven for the time being. (Twenty-five votes are required to pass bills in the Senate.)
A special nominating caucus must now be called by Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski to draw up a list of three names to succeed Ranker. The county legislative authorities of San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties will then need to select one of those individuals as Ranker’s replacement.
State Representative Jeff Morris, who has served in the House for over twenty years, would be an obvious choice to fill the vacancy if he wanted to move across the statehouse. The other member of the 40th’s delegation is Kris Lytton, who is retiring and due to be succeeded by Debra Lekanoff as of this Monday.
Whoever is appointed will represent the 40th District in the Senate until at least the end of November 2019. In accordance with state law, a special election will be held this year to determine who will represent the 40th for the remainder of Ranker’s term, which expires in early January 2021.
The 40th is a district that has reliably voted Democratic for years, so the party should not have much difficulty in holding the seat.