Why would it cost $1 million to have a special election to fill the final six weeks of Jay Inslee‘s term in Congress? The answer may be that it doesn’t. But that wasn’t the first question asked today. That designation went to Washington State Republicans who held a press event at the likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee’s Seattle campaign headquarters. In an event titled “Send Inslee the Invoice,” state GOP chairman Kirby Wilbur wants to know why Inslee won’t pay for the election he caused. Wilbur is trying to help the governor campaign of Republican Rob McKenna. Inslee triggered the issue when he resigned his seat in Congress to devote his time to the campaign for governor. The assumption was that the seat would go unfilled for the final eight months of the year and be filled by one of the people running to replace him in Congress. But Inslee resigned late enough so as not to trigger a stand-alone special election for his unexpired term. instead, whichever candidate won the full, two-year term would have taken office early to fill out Inslee’s unexpired term.
But there is a wrinkle in the law because his old 1st District was dramatically changed by redistricting. Because the voters in the new 1st District aren’t completely the same who made up the old 1st District, a special election must be held in front of a different batch of voters than the election for the full two-year term.
Kind of a mess. Then Secretary of State Sam Reed‘s office announced the election would cost state taxpayers $770.000. In addition, elections officials think they need to educate voters about the confusing pair of elections and asked for $225,000 to send postcards to effected voters. That’s a lot of money any year but sounds especially so when lawmakers are still trying to balance the state budget.