Harper's successor not up to the voters
When Everett Democrat Nick Harper abandoned his state Senate seat earlier this month, you might have thought voters would be the ones to pick his replacement.
You’d have been right 100 years ago. Not today.
Washington’s original state Constitution required that special elections be held to fill vacancies in the House or Senate. A change enacted in 1929 shifted the state to an appointment process and put county councils in charge of finding suitable successors from any political party.
Since 1956, when a state lawmaker leaves office, regardless of the reason, their political party retains control of the seat and dictates who sits in it.
Voters themselves put this perq of power into Article II, Section 15 of the state Constitution by approving an amendment placed on the ballot by the Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature.
They would need to be the ones to remove it. But lawmakers from the two major parties will probably never give them the chance by offering up a constitutional amendment repealing this provision.