State Representative Bill Grant passed away on Sunday from lung cancer. Grant was 71 years old and had been diagnosed only a month previously with cancer. Grant was a conservative Democrat representing the 16th Legislative District in eastern Washington, including Walla Walla and Pasco.
Democrats from eastern Washington are a rare breed as it is, so losing one is of note. Grant was a wheat farmer and was the only Democrat in eastern Washington representing a mostly rural area. Grant was a member of the Democratic House Leadership serving as Caucus Chair.
Grant was a member of 3 committees for this upcoming session – Agriculture and Natural Resources, Rules and Ways and Means. A number of people do remembrances of Grant over on the comment thread at Horsesass.org.
As tricityherald.com notes Grant served in the Legislature for 22 years and had just been re-elected to another term. The Secretary of State’s election results for his race showed that he defeated Republican Terry R Nealey 27,648 votes to 23,673.
Republican Senator Mike Hewitt ran unopposed. Republican Maureen Walsh easily defeated her Democratic opponent, Dante Lee Montoya 36,697 votes to 13, 885 votes, for the other House seat in the district.
Republicans will have to wait 2 years however to try to pick up the seat as the Washington State Constitution says that the person appointed to fill a legislative vacancy must be the same party as the previous elected seat holder.
Article II, Section 15 of the Washington State Constitution provides that
“… in case of a vacancy occurring in the office of joint senator, or joint representative, the vacancy shall be filled from a list of three nominees selected by the state central committee, by appointment by the joint action of the boards of county legislative authorities of the counties composing the joint senatorial or joint representative district, the person appointed to fill the vacancy must be from the same legislative district and of the same political party as the legislator whose office has been vacated, and in case a majority of the members of the county legislative authority do not agree upon the appointment within sixty days after the vacancy occurs, the governor shall within thirty days thereafter, and from the list of nominees provided for herein, appoint a person who shall be from the same legislative district and of the same political party as the legislator whose office has been vacated.
[AMENDMENT 96, 2003 House Joint Resolution No. 4206, p 2819. Approved November 4, 2003.]”
Joint action is required because the 16th LD is composed of parts of Benton and Franklin County as well as all of Walla Walla and Columbia County.