Nine people are vying for the open state Senate seat representing northeastern Washington’s 7th District, including Shelly Short, R-Addy, who has steadily climbed up the ranks in the House of Representatives.
Short said Friday she will ask GOP precinct officers to nominate her for the seat vacated this week by Brian Dansel, who was tapped by Donald Trump’s administration to be a special assistant to the U.S. agriculture secretary.
Earlier in the week, Short said she was inclined to stay in the House, where she is the Republican caucus chairwoman and a senior member of the Environment Committee. But she added she wanted to talk to Senate Republicans about the opening.
Short, first elected to the House in 2008, is considered a front-runner for the Senate seat, meaning someone would have to fill her current position.
Stephanie Cates, chairwoman of the Spokane County Republican Party, said precinct officers are prepared to fill both positions as early as Monday.
According to local Republican operative Kelly Lotze, others vying for the Senate seat include:
Jacquelin Maycumber, who is Short’s legislative assistant;
John Smith, who was appointed to the seat in 2013 and served for one session before losing an election to Dansel;
Tom Horne, a volunteer firefighter and retired engineer who has twice run for Congress;
Patrick Plumb, the mayor of Tonasket;
Scott Nielson, president of the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association;
Larry Stickney, a conservative activist who led a campaign to roll back domestic-partnership benefits for gay couples in 2009;
Garen Mobley, a Stevens County Republican delegate;
and Nick Miley, a Republican volunteer.
On Sunday, they will make their cases to Republican precinct officers from the five counties in the district: Spokane, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry and Okanogan. The precinct officers will then select three favorites to recommend to commissioners from each county, who must choose a new senator by a majority vote.
That process is outlined in state law, which dictates that legislative seats stay in the same party when they become open prior to an election. Dansel’s term would have ended in 2018. His successor will serve until a special election can be held this November.
The boards of commissioners of the five counties plan to convene Monday in Colville.
“Last I heard, they wanted to be able to swear in the new senator Monday night,” said Spokane County Commissioner Al French. “It’s a really quick turnaround.”
Senate Republicans are eager to fill the seat because without Dansel, their caucus and the Democrats each have 24 members. Republicans insist that they maintain the majority, although they would need help from the other caucus to get the 25-vote minimum needed to pass any bill.
Democrats say the Senate is tied, and they actually have more members because one Republican, Sen. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale, has taken a temporary job with the Trump administration and has not been in Olympia all week.
Cates, the Spokane County GOP chairwoman, said local Republicans are expediting the appointment process because “we’re eager to get the balance of power back in our favor.”