By Jerry Cornfield Herald Columnist
Rep. Mike Hope may be running out of time to serve in the Legislature.
The Mill Creek Republican admits he’s struggling to find enough hours each day to enjoy life as a husband, father, Seattle cop, state representative and aspiring actor.
A solution may be for the 37-year-old to not run for re-election in 2014.
“Absolutely. It’s a decision I have to make,” said Hope, who’s yet to register as a candidate in order to raise money. “It’s something my family and I will have to look at.”
The challenge became noticeably apparent when Hope didn’t show up in the final days of the decisive second special session. He missed 50 of 57 roll call votes including those dealing with the state’s operating budget and a controversial transportation funding package.
Overall, Hope missed 138 of the 694 votes taken through the regular session and two extra periods, according to records compiled by WashingtonVotes.org. That’s the highest total of the 21 lawmakers whose districts include parcels in Snohomish County.
Early on, the missed votes stemmed mostly from pulling overtime shifts for the Seattle Police Department, he said.
However, in the second special session, which ran from June 12 through June 29, the issue was vacation. Hope said his scheduled time off coincided with what turned out to be the last week of the extra session when most of the voting occurred.
While some lawmakers guessed he’d skipped out for auditions for a movie, Hope said he, his wife and 3-year-old son went to Cleveland, Ohio, to visit family, including his ailing mom.
He said he’d canceled the trip earlier in the summer when lawmakers went into the first special session. He could have done it again but didn’t.
“I had to make that decision whether my family was more important or the Legislature was more important,” he said. “I chose my family.”
Arguably, not every vote is of monumental import. And honestly, as a member of the minority caucus in the House, none of those 138 votes Hope missed would have turned the tide one way or the other so missing them is not likely to be a political problem for Hope.
If he leaves Olympia, it could be trouble for the Republican Party.
He’s become one of the best known Republicans in Snohomish County since unseating an incumbent Democratic lawmaker in 2008. While he ran unsuccessfully for county executive in 2011, Hope won re-election twice without great difficulty and would be a heavy favorite to win another term.
If he doesn’t run, Republicans could lose the seat in the 44th Legislative District that includes Mill Creek, Snohomish and Lake Stevens. Democrats have little interest in challenging the incumbent but would make a serious effort at capturing it should there be an opening. Democrats already hold the district’s other two seats.
So if Hope decides against another term, he’d probably do his party a favor by resigning this year. That way a Republican could be appointed to serve in next year’s session and build momentum for the 2014 election cycle.
Those aren’t choices made quickly though Hope is already sounding like someone preparing for a pivot out of politics.
“I think I have to be realistic if I have the time,” he said. “This isn’t a professional Legislature. It’s starting to get to the point here that it is becoming a professional Legislature.”
Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.