Pierce County Council could vote as early as June 11 to select Carrell’s replacement

Republican nominees to fill the vacant 28th legislative district state Senate seat, from left to right, Dick Muri, Steve O'Ban and Javier Figueroa.
Republican nominees to fill the vacant 28th legislative district state Senate seat, from left to right, Dick Muri, Steve O’Ban and Javier Figueroa.

Pierce County Republicans selected three names to the Pierce County Council as nominees to fill the 28th Legislative District vacancy in the state Senate created by the death of state Sen. Mike Carrell on Wednesday.

In order of preference, former Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri, state Rep. Steve O’Ban and University Place Councilman Javier Figueroa were the top three choices of precinct committee officers in Carrell’s 28th legislative district, according to the Washington State Republican Party. Their selections were ratified by the Pierce County GOP Central Committee and will be sent to the Pierce County Council.

Under the state Constitution, the County Council has the 60 days to select from those three the one who will replace Carrell. After that, the decision falls onto the lap of the governor, though the County Council’s Republican-leaning majority makes that only a remote possibility.

However, because of a quirk of timing, the County Council could send Carrell’s successor to Olympia just as the current legislative special session is expiring. Due to laws governing notice of public meetings, the first time the Council will be able to vote on the matter will be June 11, the very same day that the hourglass runs out on the Legislature’s first overtime period.

As we wrote Wednesday, Republicans are worried about what could happen in the intervening week and half, a day-to-day stroll through a minefield filled with Democratic opportunities to take effective control of the state Senate and reestablish one-party rule over state government.

The absence of a vote from the 28th legislative district means the Senate is now deadlocked 24-24 along caucus lines, and the tie-breaking authority resides with Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, a Democrat. Owen has affirmed on numerous occasions his belief that he has the legal authority to cast a vote to break any ties, even on bills including tax increases.

During the 2013 regular session, the Republican-led Senate Majority Coalition Caucus had used its 25-24 advantage to push back against proposals from House Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee for $900 million in new taxes, while advancing a no new taxes, reform-driven agenda for transportation and public education.