The one-month member of Congress

Now comes word that the state may have to hold an election to fill the last month of Jay Inslee’s term within the boundaries of the district he represents.

That means for one month people in Central to North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island could have a member of Congress after all. According to an AP story we have on our site, the election would be held at the same time voters here would be electing a new member of Congress in the Sixth district.

Detailed information follows, but I can’t tell you how much it pains me that I can’t run for the job. It seems like one month in Congress would be about right, especially because the entire body is in recess for much of the time. I would consider it an amazing and lucrative addition to the internships I had in the 1980s, one as a reporter and the other working in a senator’s press office. I got paid nothing in the senator’s office and $100 a week stipend as a reporter. Or maybe it was $100 a month. A month in Congress is worth $14,500, which is significantly (I mean ginormously significant) more than I make now.

I could go as an independent. The problem is, I might have to vote on something. In fact, I would probably have to have public opinions on a lot of things, even if I didn’t have to vote. Then I’d have to come back and report on things, and someone would be there saying, “But you voted for the darn thing,” and someone would be right.

Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of any party for a one-month term as your congressman.

The Secretary of State’s office statement follows.

FYI: State election officials are exploring the option of a special election that would be run in the old 1st Congressional District this fall for the right to represent the district for the final month of the term of Rep. Jay Inslee, who is resigning March 20 to launch a full-time bid for governor.

Katie Blinn, state elections co-director, said U.S. House officials say that an interim member would need to be elected by the same voters who elected Inslee to his two-year term. The winner could take office after the election is certified on Dec. 6. Meanwhile, voters in the newly redrawn 1st District would be choosing the winner of the full term. The list of candidates, currently six Democrats, one Republican and an independent, could be the same for both the short term and the long term.

The other option would be to simply run the election for the full new term in the new 1st District, with the winner taking office Jan. 3.

Secretary of State Sam Reed has made no decisions, and the office is consulting with the governor’s legal counsel and others. A decision is expected next week.

State election law ordinarily says that when there is an unexpired term, the regularly scheduled November election includes voting for both the short term to fill the remainder of the term, as well as for the new upcoming term. That means the winner can take office in December, as soon as the election results are certified, rather than having to wait until January, when the new term begins.

In the case of a U.S. Senate vacancy, the governor would choose a successor until the next general election. But the House is handled differently. If the vacancy occurs with more than eight months left on the term, the governor is required to call a special election, both primary and general. But Congressman Inslee is not resigning by March 6, the deadline for triggering a special election, and the law does not provide for filling the vacancy before the regular election cycle.

Another twist is that during the course of Inslee’s term, the state Redistricting Commission has significantly altered the boundaries of the 1st District. The old district was reasonably compact, girdling the region north, east and west of Seattle and including Bainbridge Island and part of Kitsap Peninsula. The new district loses the island and Kitsap and heads north to the Canadian border, wrapping around the new 2nd District.

The map of the old district:
The map of the new 1st:

According to the commission, of the 739,455 people in the old district, less than 44 percent (43.7) are in the newly drawn 1st. Said a different way, of the 672,444 people who are in the new 1st District, 48 percent are from the old 1st.

Under the House requirement that an interim Inslee replacement be elected from the old district, if Secretary Reed decides on that route, and Governor Gregoire concurs and issues a writ calling the special election, then some voters would see both short and full-term races on their ballot, and others only one or the other. In some areas, such as Kitsap, voters could be picking a successor to retiring 6th District Congressman Norm Dicks and voting for the short-term successor to Inslee.

2 thoughts on “The one-month member of Congress

  1. Considering that, the quitting member of congress never really represented the voters of Kitsap County district 1.
    Not holding a special election would give us the same congressional coverage.

    Jay, please be aware of the doorknob

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