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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington State Senator Mike Carrell Dies At 69

Washington Legislature

Washington state Senator Mike Carrell of Lakewood has died from complications related to treatment for a pre-leukemia blood disorder. 

The Republican’s death Wednesday leaves the Senate’s Majority Coalition Caucus down a critical vote – but perhaps not for long.

The 69-year-old Carrell has been absent from the Washington Senate for several weeks due to his illness. But Democrat Jim Hargrove has voted in Carrell’s place as a courtesy. Carrell’s death means the Senate’s mostly Republican majority caucus now has just 24 members – that’s one short of a majority.

But former Republican Party chair and public affairs consultant Chris Vance says finding a replacement for Carrell can happen quickly. “It actually provides clarity now to the political situation. The system doesn’t have any mechanism to deal with a senator is too ill to be in the chamber and voting, but the system does provide for a vacancy.”

Vance says the Pierce County Council will choose from a list of three Republicans to fill Carrell’s seat. The legislature is currently meeting in an overtime session to balance the budget.

Carrell is being remembered for – among other legacies - his work to reform the state’s criminal justice and corrections systems.

On the Web:

Sen. Mike Carrell - Washington Senate Republicans

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."