Expect a game of musical chairs at the state Capitol soon. Republican state Rep. Gary Alexander is keeping his campaign promise to leave the state House and he said it’ll be “effective Dec. 31.” Alexander had pledged before the August primary election that he would step down at year’s end whether he won or lost his bid for Thurston County auditor.
Mary Hall, a Lacey Democrat who works as elections supervisor in Pierce County, narrowly beat Alexander for the auditor’s job, as was reported by The Olympian's Lisa Pemberton. With few ballots left to count as of Sunday, Hall led by 723 votes, or barely 1 percentage point.
The loss leaves Republicans with no partisan offices in the county courthouse, although Sheriff John Snaza, elected as an independent, had GOP support in his defeat of a Democrat for the job in 2010.
Alexander is in his ninth term in the House and previously served a term as Port of Olympia commissioner. He also served several years as deputy county auditor before being appointed county auditor in January. He filled the auditor vacancy created when Kim Wyman left the post to become secretary of state.
Already, the House GOP has named Rep. Bruce Chandler of Granger to take Alexander’s place as ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.
Republicans in the 2nd Legislative District have said they planned to meet this month to start the process for selecting a successor to Alexander in the House. The district leans libertarian and Republican; it overlaps southern Pierce and southeast Thurston counties, barely taking in Alexander’s residence on the outskirts of Lacey.
Until redistricting redrew all 49 legislative districts’ boundaries in 2011, Alexander represented the 20th district, which has long been anchored in Lewis County. That district now runs from southwest Thurston County to Cowlitz County.
Alexander’s departure is one of at least three in the works at the Legislature. All require appointment of new members for the 60-day legislative session that begins in January.
Most prominently, Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle stepped down from his post as Senate Democratic leader and will be leaving the Legislature after winning election to mayor of Seattle. That has set off a contest between liberal Democratic Sens. Sharon Nelson of Maury Island and Karen Keiser of Des Moines for the top leadership post, which is being filled temporarily by Sen. David Frockt of Seattle.
“We’re having a lot of internal discussions. We have scheduled the decision for Nov. 20,’’ said Sen. Karen Fraser, Senate Democratic Caucus chair, who is not taking a public position on the leadership contest.
Democratic Sen. Nick Harper of Everett also announced after the election that he was resigning from his 38th district seat to allow more time with his family.