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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lawmaker will bring in substitute while running for governor

Idaho state Rep. Paulette Jordan speaks during a women's march rally Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (John Locher / Associated Press)
By William L. Spence Lewiston Tribune

BOISE – State Rep. Paulette Jordan will not be resigning her seat in the Idaho Legislature, contrary to her previous announcement, because of potential delays in appointing a replacement.

Instead, the Plummer Democrat will bring in a substitute for the remainder of the 2018 session.

This “unofficial resignation,” as she described it, will allow her to focus on her gubernatorial campaign, while still ensuring that the House Democratic caucus doesn’t miss her vote and her 5th Legislative District constituents continue to be represented.

The change in plan was based on a closer reading of state statutes.

Jordan faces Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff in the May 15 Democratic gubernatorial primary. She announced Wednesday that she intended to resign her seat so she could devote all her energy to the campaign.

She wanted the resignation to be effective upon appointment of a replacement. However, state law says the seat must be vacant before the process of naming a replacement can even begin.

Once a legislative seat is vacated, the central committee in the lawmaker’s district and their party has 15 days to submit a list of three names to the governor. The governor then has another 15 days to choose a replacement from the list.

Consequently, if Jordan had actually resigned, her seat potentially could have remained vacant for as many as 30 days – at a time when critical bills are moving through the House.

By choosing to appoint a substitute instead, “no votes will be missed,” she said.

Friday was Jordan’s last day in the Legislature. St. Maries City Councilor Margie Gannon is driving down this weekend to fill in for the remainder of the session.

Gannon was planning on running for Jordan’s seat anyway, so this is an opportunity for her to get familiar with the position before the election.

“I’m terrified and excited at the same time,” Gannon said in a telephone interview Friday. “I’m looking forward to the learning experience.”

Gannon has lived in St. Maries for 39 years. She’s served on the city council for two years; prior to that she served 16 years on the St. Maries School Board.

Gannon described herself as “a Democrat through and through,” who believes in programs that help people. However, she’s also fiscally conservative.

“I’m a results person,” she said. If taxpayer dollars are being spent to achieve a particular outcome, “show me that it’s working.”

Now that she has a substitute in place, Jordan said there’s no need for her to resign her seat – even after the session ends – since standing committees don’t meet during the interim and no votes are cast.

She was somewhat vague, however, on what her 5th District constituents should do if they need help. She indicated Gannon will pick up that work as well, but said people also may contact her.

During Friday’s House floor session, Jordan said serving in the Legislature “has been a tremendous privilege.”

“I’ve learned quite a bit from every one of you,” she told her House colleagues. “Regardless of where we stand on issues, I always have a sincere appreciation for the fact that you all stand up for what you believe right.”