Representative Kristine Lytton, D-40
Former State Representative Kristine Lytton, D-40th District

A spe­cial nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus called by Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty Chair Tina Pod­lodows­ki has drawn up a list of three indi­vid­u­als to replace recent­ly depart­ed State Sen­a­tor Kevin Ranker in the 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, encom­pass­ing San Juan Coun­ty and parts of What­com and Skag­it Coun­ties. The list con­sists of:

  1. Kris Lyt­ton (who recent­ly retired from the Wash­ing­ton State House)
  2. Liz Lovelett (a mem­ber of the Ana­cortes City Council)
  3. Trevor Smith (Busi­ness Agent for Labor­ers Local 292 and Sec­re­tary-Trea­sur­er of the North­west Wash­ing­ton Cen­tral Labor Coun­cil)

The names on the list were cho­sen by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic precinct com­mit­tee offi­cers from the 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, which Ranker for­mer­ly rep­re­sent­ed.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, in addi­tion to the three indi­vid­u­als who were cho­sen to be on the list, motions were made in sup­port of Mag­gie Han­son (who declined) and What­com Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Rud Browne (deemed inel­i­gi­ble for inclu­sion on the list due to a con­flict of inter­est; he is one of the peo­ple respon­si­ble for mak­ing the ulti­mate appoint­ment to fill the vacancy.)

The Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion stip­u­lates that in the event of a leg­isla­tive vacan­cy in a dis­trict span­ning mul­ti­ple coun­ties, the state cen­tral com­mit­tee of the polit­i­cal par­ty that leg­is­la­tor is from shall draw up a list of three names of pos­si­ble suc­ces­sors. The coun­ty leg­isla­tive author­i­ties must then joint­ly pick one of those indi­vid­u­als to fill the vacan­cy. If they can­not agree on a name after six­ty days, then the gov­er­nor shall fill the vacan­cy by select­ing an indi­vid­ual from the list.

The Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, by adopt­ed rule, del­e­gates its list-writ­ing pow­ers to what are known as spe­cial nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus­es.

This pro­ce­dure allows the selec­tion of nom­i­nees to be han­dled by the precinct com­mit­tee offi­cers from that leg­isla­tive dis­trict who know it well, instead of the statu­to­ry state cen­tral com­mit­tee, which con­sists of two rep­re­sen­ta­tives from each of the thir­ty-nine coun­ties. (The full Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, which I serve on, is a much larg­er body con­sist­ing of an addi­tion­al two rep­re­sen­ta­tives from every leg­isla­tive dis­trict plus spe­cial members.)

The statu­to­ry state com­mit­tee or its exec­u­tive com­mit­tee still has the respon­si­bil­i­ty of approv­ing the work of the spe­cial nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus, but that is a mere for­mal­i­ty. The exec­u­tive com­mit­tee is slat­ed to take that vote today.

Representative Kristine Lytton, D-40
For­mer State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kris­tine Lyt­ton, D‑40th District

As the first place choice of the PCOs and an expe­ri­enced law­mak­er, for­mer State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kris Lyt­ton would appear to be a lock for the appointment.

Lyt­ton is wide­ly respect­ed in the state­house and through­out North­west Washington.

She was the Chair of the House Finance Com­mit­tee pri­or to her retire­ment, a posi­tion now held by State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and NPI board­mem­ber Gael Tar­leton. She ought to adjust to life in the Sen­ate very quickly.

Once a suc­ces­sor to Ranker is cho­sen, the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty will be back to its full strength of twen­ty-eight. Democ­rats flipped three Sen­ate seats in the recent Novem­ber midterms with the vic­to­ries of Claire Wil­son over Mark Milos­cia, Emi­ly Ran­dall over Mar­ty McClen­don, and Mona Das over Joe Fain.

How­ev­er, just before the ses­sion was to begin last month, Ranker resigned.

With the first few weeks of ses­sion most­ly tak­en up by com­mit­tee work, the vacan­cy in the 40th has­n’t caused any prob­lems for the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus. The cau­cus will sure­ly be glad to have Lyt­ton on board for the remain­der of ses­sion, how­ev­er. She brings expe­ri­ence and an excel­lent under­stand­ing of fis­cal mat­ters to the table. Under Lyt­ton’s lead­er­ship, the House Finance Com­mit­tee last year vot­ed to advance leg­is­la­tion to levy a cap­i­tal gains excise tax on high earners.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Kris Lyt­ton, Liz Lovelett, and Trevor Smith on being nom­i­nat­ed to join the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate from the 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict. We’ll keep you post­ed on next steps for fill­ing this impor­tant Sen­ate vacancy.

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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