Spending nearly $1 million is foolish. There are no penalties in the Constitution for leaving the position open.
It is understandable why Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed believe the U.S. Constitution gives them no choice but to set an election to fill the vacancy created in the U.S. House of Representatives when Jay Inselee resigned to pursue a campaign for governor. After all, it says: "When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies."
So obviously the governor can't simply appoint someone to fill the remainder of the term, which would have been the simple solution. However, there are no penalties listed in the Constitution for not filling the remainder of a term. And when the term would be only one month, and the election would cost the people of the state an additional $770,000 at a time when the Legislature has been incapable of balancing the budget despite slashing funds for numerous programs, it makes little sense to throw away more than a three-quarters of a million dollars.
Gregoire believes this is essential because of the possibility the lame-duck Congress may consider some pieces of legislation that are important to the state. She gave examples of whether state sales taxes are deductible on federal income taxes and a possible solution federal solution to Internet tax collection.
Granted these are important issues, but the new representative will barely have had time to find his or her office before the term will be over. The person will not have had time to assemble a competent staff, organize the office and get up to speed on the legislation being considered. That would be a difficult task even for someone who has already held the office and who is familiar with the inner workings of government.
While some legislation may be discussed, there is no guarantee that anything will be passed. However, Gregoire wants to make sure the state has a player in the game. But it's not unlike putting nearly $1 million on a spin of the roulette wheel. You may be right and be a big winner, but the odds are you will have simply lost your money.
Inslee should have resigned much sooner so there would have been real value in having someone replace him. Or he should have stayed at the post to which he was elected until after the November election to allow for a smooth transition.
Since he didn't, the state should bite the bullet and go for one month will one fewer representative in the House. It doesn't make sense to spend nearly $1 million to elect someone for one month.