The Seattle Times editorial board was critical of several
would-be members of Congress who decided to run both for the
temporary seat and the permanent one. I wish the issue were that
easy to describe for us in Kitsap, but let’s save that conversation
for later in this blog post.
The Times’ criticism points out that candidates like Darcy
Burner, who was the first to declare she’d run in both races, get
to raise twice as much money this way for mailers and the like,
because she can raise money for two different elections. (Confused
already? I don’t blame you. I’ll explain it all later. I keep
promising that, I know.) I mention Burner specifically, because
she’s the one who started the cascade of candidates running for the
full two-year term that begins in January to also run for the
one-month job (It might be longer. I know, that’s confusing.) That
ends in January to fill the last month of Jay Inslee’s
congressional term. He resigned earlier this year to focus on his
bid for the governor’s office. Burner was joined in running for
both seats by Democrats Suzan DelBene, Laura Ruderman and Darshan
Rauniyar. Republican John Koster joined in as well. Democrat Steve
Hobbs declined, saying the move by the other candidates was
motivated by money. The Times editorial didn’t mention that
independent candidate Larry Ishmael also declined.
The Times may be off the mark in question the point of a
one-month congressional job. There could be some important items to
vote on, such as the budget, the extension of the Bush tax cuts and
an income tax deduction for Washington residents.
But I think the Times may also have a case in suggesting
candidates will raise money for both races, but do you think anyone
Kitsap County will see any mailers from candidates for the
one-month job? The Times opines that all the benefit of the extra
money will go toward winning the permanent seat.
So let’s again explain why this is happening.
First off, Jay Inslee resigned from Congress, and congressional
officials said federal law stipulates that an election to replace
him during his term must happen. If he had resigned with a month
left that wouldn’t have been necessary, but he is out of the seat
for long enough that congressional officials believe it merits
electing a replacement.
Had this not been a redistricting year the state would have had
the option of taking the winner of the general election and
appointing him or her to the seat early. Because it’s a
redistricting year and the 1st District boundaries have been
changed dramatically, whoever gets elected in the 1st will be
representing a vastly different area than the current 1st. So
voters in Bainbridge would be represented for one month by someone
they had no say in choosing.
So on the primary and general election ballot voters in about
half of Kitsap County, the part currently in the 1st Congressional
District, will pick a member to fill the remainder of Inslee’s term
from about early December to early January and a congressman in the
6th Congressional District, with that term beginning in early
In the final candidate filing story last week I tried to
simplify the discussion by writing this:
“Candidates for the new 1st Congressional District, which does
not include any portion of Kitsap County, had all held back on
running for the temporary seat, which carries the northern portion
of the county and Bainbridge Island.”
I received an email from someone confused by that paragraph. A
different person used the story comments to express befuddlement. I
admit that there are times I can write things clearer than I do,
but in this case I think the issue is confusing and difficult to
boil down in a single sentence. I think I did pretty well, and it’s
So let me try this.
If you live in the 6th Congressional District now, you have
nothing to figure out.
If you live in the 1st Congressional District in Kitsap County, you
will be electing two members of Congress this year. One will be in
the 6th Congressional District, because beginning in January you
will no longer be in the 1st. You will be in the 6th. That member
of Congress will serve a regular term. The other member of Congress
you elect will be in the 1st District and will only serve for the
last month you will live in the 1st District.
Are we clear yet?