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What’s the process for filling the late Sen. Mike Carrell’s vacant seat?

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on May 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
May 30, 2013 3:30 pm

With Wednesday’s untimely passing of state Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, questions have emerged as to how — and when — his vacant 28th legislative district senate seat will be filled.

Under the appointment process for a vacant legislative seat —  spelled out in Washington’s Constitution and in state statute — the Pierce County Council will have the first crack at deciding Carrell’s replacement.

Because Carrell was a Republican, the county’s Republican Party gets to choose three candidates to submit for the county council’s consideration. The council has up to 60 days from the date of vacancy (Wednesday) to appoint Carrell’s replacement.

“The fastest this could happen is June 11,” Pierce County spokesman Hunter George told me today of the County Council’s expected appointment. “That’s if the Republican Party Central Committee met and submitted names to the council in the next few days.”

Bob Lawrence, Pierce County Republican Party chairman, said today the party’s precinct committee officers plan to meet tonight in hopes of deciding the three names to send to the council.

But even if the party submits the names to the council tonight, the council must first give at least one week’s notice of an appointment hearing, George noted. The soonest that could happen would be by introducing an appointment resolution on the council’s June 4 consent agenda, which could set an appointment hearing at the earliest for June 11, he said.

June 11 is also the last day of the current 30-day special session of the Legislature.

At that time, the council could decide the appointment, and the appointee could be sworn into office immediately,  according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

“In the unlikely scenario that (the council does not) make a choice, it would go to the governor,” George added.

Whomever is appointed to fill Carrell’s seat would not have to stand for election until the fall of 2014. That’s because the appointee would have missed the ballot deadline for this year’s election.  The 2014 runoff for the seat would seek to fill only the remaining two-years on Carrell’s term.

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