State Senator Guy Palumbo (D‑1st District: Kirkland, Bothell, Maltby), who recently angered many Democratic activists by attempting to divert funding from public common schools to privately administered private schools, has resigned from the Washington State Senate, effective immediately.
In a statement, the now-former Senator said he was leaving public service with a year and a half left in his term to focus on his family and small business — although it turns out the real reason is that he has taken a job with Amazon as the company’s state Director of Public Policy, according to The Herald of Everett and The Seattle Times, which each obtained a statement from Amazon.
(Palumbo previously worked for Amazon, so this new job will be a homecoming.)
“Representing the residents of the 1st Legislative District has been the distinguishing honor of my professional life,” said Palumbo.
“As rewarding as it has been to serve in the Senate, the role I cherish most is being a husband and father. I am returning to the private sector so I can be closer to my home and young family and my small business.”
“I ran in 2016 promising to address transportation and infrastructure problems in our community,” Palumbo recalled.
“In three short years, investments in our district have grown exponentially compared to the prior two decades with $720 million in transportation investments and another $180 million in capital construction investments.
“While the work isn’t finished, I feel like I am leaving our district and our state in better shape than when I took office. I am proud of leading on climate change and passing the nation’s strongest 100 percent clean energy bill as well as the Solar Fairness Act to ensure we promote installations of rooftop solar in our state.
“This past session, we worked to guarantee free college tuition for lower-income students. We created the nation’s first Long Term Care Trust to ensure that Washingtonians will have the care they need later in life. Our state continues to lead and make progress on key policy issues that will make people’s lives better.”
“I am proud of what was accomplished during my time in the legislature. It was an honor to serve my community and to serve with my colleagues.”
“Senator Palumbo has informed me he intends to resign his seat in the state senate, effective today,” said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig.
“Senator Palumbo has done an excellent job representing the people of the 1st Legislative District and has been a particularly strong advocate on issues related to higher education, transportation, climate and energy.”
“We will miss him in the Senate, but definitely understand his reasons for leaving as the job of being a legislator can be difficult to mesh with the realities of families and other professional work. I thank Senator Palumbo for his hard work in the Senate and for Washington. I wish him and his family all the best in the future.”
“My treasured friend and senate colleague Guy Palumbo has resigned to return to the private sector and be closer to home and family,” said Senator Reuven Carlyle.
“The personal, professional and financial challenges of serving our constituents in our part-time citizen legislature are increasingly difficult.”
“Mostly I want to thank Guy for his friendship, personal passion and his deeply impactful work on climate, energy, environment, higher education, health care, transportation and so much more. He has had an outsized impact for good public policy and will be missed dearly in the Washington State Senate.”
Those sentiments were not shared by Palumbo’s 2016 Democratic opponent.
“My nemesis, Guy Palumbo, has resigned his Senate seat without even finishing his first term,” wrote former State Representative Luis Moscoso.
“I understand The Stranger and other media will be exposing more of his reasons for this. And I will not be surprised to learn that his resignation is tied to unethical behavior like what he did in his 2016 [Top Two] race against me.”
Palumbo’s two seatmates in the House are both Democrats (Derek Stanford and Shelley Kloba) and it is possible one or both will ask the Democratic Party to nominate them to take Palumbo’s place in the Senate.
Because Palumbo resigned after Filing Week, no special election will be held this year for his seat. Instead, a special election will be held next year, concurrently with the election where the position would ordinarily be contested.
The process for filling a Democratic legislative vacancy under party rules and the Washington State Constitution in this case is as follows:
- For a legislative district spanning multiple counties like the 1st, the Chair of the Washington State Democrats (currently Tina Podlodowski) is required to call a special nominating caucus consisting of the Democratic precinct committee officers in the 1st Legislative District. The special nominating caucus must choose a list of three people to fill the vacancy.
- The statutory state central committee or the executive committee of the statutory state committee must then approve the list of three people, although under party rules, this is a formality — it’s obliged to.
- The King and Snohomish County Councils must then choose from among the list of three nominees. If they cannot agree on who to appoint within sixty days, Governor Jay Inslee will make the appointment instead.
If either Kloba or Stanford (or both) stand for the Senate vacancy in the nominating process, then the party will also prepare a list of three names to fill the House vacancy that would be created by their move across the Rotunda to the Senate, so that the House vacancy could be almost simultaneously filled.