State Rep. Gary Alexander of Thurston County says he’s leaving the Legislature at the end of the year — win or lose in the Thurston County auditor’s race. That departure will open up a seat in the libertarian-leaning 2nd District that usually favors Republicans.
The Republican confirmed Monday his plans to step down — even if he loses re-election to the county auditor’s job he was appointed to in January to replace Kim Wyman, who is now secretary of state.
Alexander faces Democrat Mary Hall in the election to decide who serves the final year left in Wyman’s four-year term. Hall lives in Lacey and is Pierce County’s elections supervisor.
“I intend to leave my seat in the Legislature when I am elected auditor,’’ Alexander said. If he loses to Hall on Nov. 5, “I’ll finish out the year but not the term.’’
Both candidates’ names are on today’s primary ballot, and both automatically move on to the November election.
Alexander won re-election to a two-year term in the House last fall in the 2nd District after serving eight terms in the 20th District, which is centered in Lewis County. When he first ran, he embraced a three-term pledge but decided to stay longer, and voters agreed with that decision.
After Wyman won election last fall as secretary of state, Alexander was appointed to take her place. Some of Hall’s supporters have questioned the appropriateness of Alexander holding both jobs.
But Alexander is not the only lawmaker to hold multiple elected positions. Sen. Tim Sheldon, a right-leaning Democrat, has served as a maverick in the Senate while also holding down a job as a Mason County commissioner.
Alexander said he has showed he can do both jobs — serving as deputy auditor in title for many years while in the Legislature and as de facto auditor during Wyman’s campaign last year. He said just before his appointment that he might wait until after the election before deciding to step down.
Alexander said he’ll step down because “the perception is people don’t want you to hold both (elected jobs). I’m ready to leave the Legislature and focus on my goals in the Thurston County Auditor’s Office.’’
Alexander didn’t make it a secret this year that he was probably leaving the House. He was given the gavel to preside over the adjournment ceremony —known as sine die — on June 29, the final day of the Legislature’s second special session. Sheldon presided with the gavel in the Senate.
Alexander said he mentioned at the time that “this was my last budget.’’
“I think we had a successful budget session last time. I’m going out at a point I feel good about,” he said.