Washington: Jay Inslee Resigning to Focus on Gubernatorial Bid

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted March 10, 2012 at 3:35pm

Updated 4:55 p.m. | Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) will announce today that he is resigning from the House to focus on his gubernatorial bid, three Democratic sources confirmed to Roll Call.

Inslee scheduled an afternoon news conference at his campaign headquarters in Seattle. His resignation will free him up to keep his attention on the campaign trail for a competitive race against state Attorney General Rob McKenna (R).

The Huffington Post first reported the news. The Seattle Times reported that Inslee’s seat will remain vacant until after the November elections. Had he resigned before March 6, a special election would have been called.

Six Democrats are running to replace Inslee in the redrawn 1st district, which was completely overhauled during redistricting by a bipartisan commission. The redrawn district is the most competitive in the Democratic-leaning state. The top-two primary, which will also include a Republican candidate and Independent candidate, is scheduled for Aug. 7. The top two finishers then face off in November.

Inslee was elected to his first term in Congress in 1992 in an open-seat race in the 4th district against now-Rep. Doc Hastings (R), who defeated Inslee two years later. After an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1996, Inslee returned to Congress in 1998, this time representing the 1st district.

The new district includes some portions of north King County that Inslee currently represents, but it now also stretches north all the way to the Canadian border. It includes much of the eastern parts of Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties, areas currently represented by Rep. Rick Larsen (D) in the 2nd district.

Inslee’s resignation won’t become official until the House, which is on recess this week, comes back into session. His departure means Democrats will likely have two vacancies for the duration of the 112th Congress, or at least until the lame duck-session after the elections. There is no special election anticipated to fill the vacancy created by Rep. Donald Payne’s (N.J.) death this week. The other current vacancy is the Arizona seat formerly held by Democrat Gabrielle Giffords. The special election to fill that vacancy is scheduled for June 12.

To see which other Members are leaving or have already left this Congress, check out our Casualty List.

Updated 4:55 p.m.

Inslee said in a statement that he made the decision to leave recently and after watching the GOP presidential hopefuls visit the state ahead of the March 3 primary.

“I am not one for half measures or half-hearted efforts,” Inslee said at his announcement, according to remarks provided by his campaign. “I am going to leave everything on the field. I am going everywhere and I am going to listen to everybody. If you have an idea, I want to hear it. If you have a problem, I want to know it. If you have a business, I want to help you grow it. I am all in.”

Inslee’s resignation is effective March 20.