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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 GOP State Senator Resigns To Take Job With Trump Administration

Washington Legislature
Washington state Sen. Brian Dansel has resigned his seat to take a job with the Trump administration.

A conservative Republican state senator from northeast Washington has resigned his seat to take a job with the new Trump administration. Sen. Brian Danselannounced his resignation Tuesday leaving the Washington Senate in a temporary political tie.

Dansel is going to work as a special assistant to the secretary of Agriculture. He’s a former Ferry County Commissioner who said he wants to see more timber harvest on Forest Service lands and changes to regulations that prevent mining companies from exploratory drilling.

Dansel’s sudden departure leaves the Washington Senate tied 24 to 24 until his seat can be filled -- a process that could take until early next month.

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler said he was sorry to see Dansel go, but also proud of him.

“I’m confident that our caucus will remain strong and this should have no effect on the Senate’s ability to pass an education funding plan or a budget,” Schoesler said.

Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson issued her own statement saying, “There is no majority party in the Senate right now. At this point in time, Republican leadership can work across the aisle … or they can continue to use the waiting game as a way to keep the Senate in a state of gridlock.”

Further complicating the situation for the Republican-led majority in the Washington Senate, GOP Sen. Doug Ericksen has taken a temporary job as communications director for the Environmental Protection Agency during the Trump transition. That involves commuting between Washington state and Washington, D.C., during the legislative session.

Former Republican state Senator Don Benton has also accepted a temporary post at EPA. All three Republicans played key roles in the Trump campaign in Washington state last year.

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."