Thursday, March 15, 2012
U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, didn't do himself or Washington state a favor when he decided to resign from Congress to devote more time to running for governor.
Now, we might understand -- even applaud -- the decision if Inslee was stepping aside because he didn't want to shortchange taxpayers -- if he felt it was ethically wrong to hold a full-time job in Congress while spending the majority of his time running for governor.
Unfortunately, the timing of Inslee's decision smacks far more of politics than altruism.
Since Inslee waited until March 10 to make his announcement his resignation would be effective March 20, the deadline for filling his vacated seat -- March 6 -- had passed.
This means Washington state will have one fewer representative in the U.S. House until January of 2013. It also means that Democrats can avoid a slap-dash effort to fill the seat in a congressional district that could easily swing to a Republican.
It's simply not right that Washington state will be without one-ninth, or 11 percent, of its representatives in Congress.
Inslee and his supporters are now saying that Congress does little heavy lifting from now until after the November election.
And while we concede the Capitol will not likely be a beehive of activity during this election year, the votes the House and Senate might take over the remainder of the year could be critical to the nation's future.
Inslee is correct that it is difficult to campaign and serve in office.
However, every single member of Congress is forced to endure that balancing act when they seek re-election.
And in the House it is every two years. Inslee, serving in his seventh term, has been through the grind many times before.
The current Republican front-runner, state Attorney General Rob McKenna, is doing double duty.
Inslee's move is more about getting an edge in the gubernatorial race while also trying to increase the chances a Democrat will retain his congressional seat in Western Washington.
If Inslee truly felt he could not do justice to his jobs as a congressman and a candidate for governor, he should have resigned his House seat much earlier so a special election could have been called to fill the vacancy.