Rep. Steve Westra is quitting the Legislature. The climbing two-term District 13 Republican is jumping off the GOP monkey ladder has changed his mind and decided he can sit on the sidelines and stop holding government accountable (I’m just reverse-quoting his 2014 campaign slogans). Like District 19 bailer Ardon Wek, Rep. Westra offers no specific reason for his decision; the press merely reports his claim that “he needs to focus on his family and his work.”
GOP leaders in District 13 have until August 9 to appoint a replacement for placeholder Westra. The GOP rumor mill teases that Rep. Alex Jensen, freshly repotted (dare I say carpetbagged?) from District 12, is a likely replacement. GOP leaders would not have that opportunity if their Referred Law 19 had taken effect. Referred Law 19 would have denied the local GOP the opportunity to replace Westra on the ballot unless Westra moved, died or coughed up a doctor’s note saying he was too sick to run. In 2015, Reps. Westra and Jensen both voted for that change, along with the rest of the Republican caucus that wanted to do away with the nefarious placeholding of Democratic candidates.
But now, counter to their 2015 votes they are poised to take advantage of that placeholding. Thanks to my petitioning in 2015 to suspend the law they voted for and refer it to a public vote, Westra is free to quit with even less explanation than “family reasons” without denying his party a place on the ballot, and Jensen, having chickened out of a tough Senate primary, can slide into an easier House race.
Republicans, you’re welcome. Have fun re-placeholding in District 13!