Steve O'Ban, R-28Republicans can take one less Xanax this afternoon, but it’s too soon to toss out the bottle.

Tomorrow morning, Senate Democrats will fall back into the minority with the swearing in of Republican Steve O’Ban as the state Senator representing the 28th legislative district located in Pierce County.

O’Ban was selected unanimously by the Pierce County Council on their to fill the vacancy created by state Sen. Mike Carrell’s death last week, restoring the Republican-led Senate Majority Coalition Caucus to a 25-24 majority.

The Council exercised its prerogative under the state Constitution to choose O’Ban over the preferred pick of 28th legislative district Republican precinct committee officers, former Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri.

Though Muri told a Seattle Times reporter he was sidelined by Senate Republicans and lobbyists who lobbied the County Council that O’Ban would be more electable in 2014, the electability angle was hardly a secret or a grand conspiracy. Even I wrote about it in a macro sense last Friday, suggesting that the consideration had as much to do with proper representation of 28th district voters, as it did with partisan politics:

If councilmembers with Republican loyalties need a reason to step toward O’Ban – aside from the attorney and first-term legislator’s endorsement by Carrell’s widow, Charlotte – they could look to the most recent election results from the 28th legislative district to discover who Carrell’s constituents may prefer as their representative.

In 2012, Muri ran in the open contest for the newly created 10th congressional district, losing by a 5-point margin to Democrat Denny Heck in among voters in the 28th LD. O’Ban, on the other hand, cruised to a double-digit victory over Democratic opponent Eric Choiniere. Politically speaking, O’Ban may be something of an unknown quantity, but if Muri is to be considered “known” by comparison there’s data there to conclude that voters have had their taste and moved on.

Ironically, a new round of political musical chairs could find Muri replacing the man he just lost out to as O’Ban promotion to the Senate now leaves his House seat up for grabs, though the need to replace him is less urgent because of the Democrats’ larger margin of control in the House.

O’Ban steps into the Senate at a Maalox moment with tensions rising in budget negotiations and the clock is running down to the June 11 end of the special session, all of which is driving Gov. Jay Inslee and liberals to reach new heights of rhetorical hyperbole. Their newest source of apoplectic rage: a move to repeal the state’s estate tax. From The Stranger: (ugh)

Speaking at press availability in the state Capitol today, Inslee says that he is “extremely concerned and disappointed” that “the Senate majority has voted to eliminate taxes on about 210 multimillion estates a year rather than to fund education.” Also, says Inslee, he is “surprised and disappointed.”

“Blindsided,” even.

Of course, Inslee breezes past the fact that the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has a budget that increases education spending by $1 billion without new taxes. There are no multi-millionaires standing in the way of childrens’ education.

But putting aside Inslee’s inflammatory political language on the estate tax – lingo he could easily have plagiarized from a Soviet-era COMINTERN handbook – the state’s chief executive is claiming to have been “blindsided?”

Inslee’s budget director David Schumacher was seen shuttling through doors leading to the wing of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus on Monday in the hours leading up to a remembrance of state Sen. Mike Carrell on the Senate floor. He must have been delivering a condolence card.


[featured photo used under Creative Commons license, credit: World of Good]