Harper quits state Senate

OLYMPIA — Democratic Sen. Nick Harper of Everett, who won a controversial election in 2010 and became one of the party’s rising stars, quit suddenly Saturday, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Harper’s surprise resignation came moments after the Legislature ended its special session dealing with measures to land the 777X jetliner program in Everett.

“Unfortunately my work in Olympia takes me away from my family far too much,” Harper said in an interview Saturday.

“I ran because I believed I could do a better job representing the district,” he said. “But to be a full-time husband, to be a full-time father and to maintain my full-time law practice, I cannot continue to give this job the amount of dedication it deserves or the people of the district deserve.”

Harper, 34, is married and has two young daughters, both of whom have been born since he took office.

Harper’s announcement caught many of his colleagues off guard, because up until a few days ago he had been campaigning to succeed Ed Murray as leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Murray left the Senate this week following his election as mayor of Seattle.

“It’s a loss. Nick is a really valued member,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, who is the interim caucus leader. “We wish him and his family the best.”

The sudden exit added fuel to rumors of an extramarital affair involving Harper and a lobbyist in Olympia. Harper declined to respond when asked if the allegation was true or if the weight of the rumors played a factor in his decision.

“I am leaving office for the reasons I’ve just stated. It is unequivocal. I have no regrets. I have no reservations,” he said.

The departure derails the career of one of the Democratic Party’s brightest hopes and concludes one of the more interesting chapters in Everett political history.

In September, the Washington State Democratic Party named Harper its Male Elected Official of the Year.

He enjoyed wide support from the progressive flank of the Democratic Party and was expected to easily win re-election in 2014. At the same time, he earned broad respect from Republicans in the Legislature.

After three years, most had forgotten that some in the Senate did not want him seated following his victory in 2010.

He was 31 when he unseated an incumbent senator and fellow Democrat, Jean Berkey, in his maiden bid for public office.

He had been strongly recruited by progressive forces who were frustrated with Berkey’s moderate leanings. Harper triumphed in an election tainted by the efforts of an independent political committee to help him win.

Moxie Media, the Seattle political consulting firm running that committee, was later slapped with a heavy fine by the state for concealing the source of money that paid for mailers and phone calls attacking Berkey in the final days of the August 2010 primary.

Berkey tried unsuccessfully to get the election results thrown out and a new election held. Some of her friends in the Senate considered trying to block Harper from taking office because of what transpired.

At the time, Harper did not denounce the shenanigans. He would go on to co-sponsor legislation imposing tougher rules on disclosure on the source of money and the membership of independent committees.

Harper is leaving office with a full year left in his term as representative of Everett and Tulalip in the 38th District. He said he was not disappointed about leaving his term unfinished.

“What I’ve accomplished in three years I am very, very proud of,” he said.

Helping Washington State University to establish a foothold at Everett Community College and giving the four-year university a visible presence in the city is the achievement he said he’s most pleased with.

The Snohomish County Council will choose Harper’s successor from names put forth by the district’s Democratic precinct officers. It is expected that person will be chosen in time to serve in the 2014 legislative session.

Reps. Mike Sells of Everett and John McCoy of Tulalip are two of the most prominent names mentioned Saturday as possible candidates.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

1 person shot in Everett thrift store parking lot

Multiple people called 911 after overhearing a loud argument and then multiple gunshots.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

One dead in crash south of Granite Falls

Two cars collided near the intersection of N. Lake Roesiger Road and Hidden Valley Road.

Old Silvana Creamery recalling whole raw milk

The milk was sold at the farm store, directly to customers and at local stores.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
If drivers paid even more, I-405 toll lanes might speed up

A report recommends lifting the maximum toll of $10 and varying it by segment traveled.

Departing mayor’s locally drawn portrait joins city’s pantheon

Artist Elizabeth Person’s portrait of Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson will hang with others at City Hall.

Investigation recommends girl shot by officers face charges

The teen is accused of assaulting her boyfriend and the responding police officers.

Most Read