OLYMPIA -- Mary Dye, longtime GOP activist from Garfield County, was chosen to fill open seat in Southeast Washington's 9th District.
Dye, 53, was named this afternoon by county commissioners to fill the seat left open a week ago after Susan Fagan of Pullman resigned amid allegations of ethics violations. State GOP Chairwoman Susan Hutchison said the appointment may have been the fastest to fill an open legislative seat in history.
Dye and her husband operate a wheat farm near Pomeroy. She is the state committeewoman for Garfield County and has been active for some two decades in GOP campaigns, Hutchison said. In 2012 she was a delegate to the Republican National Convention, where she served as co-chairwoman of the Agriculture and Environment plank for the Platform Committee. She once served on the chairwoman of former Rep. George Nethercutt's 5th Congressional District advisory committee and in the late 1990s was active in the "Save Our Dams" movement to fight any efforts to breach federal dams on the Snake River. The Dye's barn carried the movement's slogan in large white letters.
When candidate George W. Bush campaigned in Eastern Washington during the 2000 presidential campaign she and her husband shared a stage with the future president where he promised the dams would never be breached if he were elected and dared Democratic rival Al Gore to make a similar vow.
She has a bachelor of science in plant science and crop management from the University of Idaho and served in the Peace Corps in Thailand.
Other than her election as a precinct committee officer, she has not run for elective office, but will file next week for the seat which will be on this year's ballot because of Fagan's resignation in the middle of the term. Other Republican hopefuls who sought the seat might also file for the election, Hutchison said.
Fagan agreed to resign as of last Friday in the middle of an ongoing investigation by the Legislative Ethics Board that she padded her expense accounts by inflating mileage, sought reimbursement for trips that were listed as legislative business but were connected to her campaign, and pressured aides to falsify the accounts. She has attributed the mistakes to poor recordkeeping and denied that she sought "personal gain" from the expense accounts.
Republican precinct committee officers from around the district met Wednesday evening in Ritzville to select three nominees for the opening. Frank Latham, a former Franklin County sheriff, was their first pick, Dye their second and Patrick Guettner, a Franklin County party officer, their third.
But commissioners are not obligated to follow the rankings and at a meeting in Colfax selected Dye, who is expected to be in Olympia Monday for the remainder of the special session.