WASHINGTON — One ugly painting. Three recipients.
A congressional tradition observed by members of Washington’s delegation took an unusual turn this year when a painting of a just-hatched chick was passed to the state’s newest member of Congress — and rotated among the state’s three House freshmen.
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas, who took possession of the artwork when she arrived in Congress in 2011, bestowed it Wednesday — briefly — to U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene of Medina.
DelBene was elected to fill the 1st District seat vacated by the new Gov. Jay Inslee. But because Inslee resigned before his term was up, DelBene was seated shortly after the November elections — a month before the rest of the freshmen class.
DelBene immediately handed the painting off to U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor. Kilmer was elected to the 6th District seat vacated by Rep. Norm Dicks, who retired this year.
Kilmer got dibs on the painting before fellow freshman Democrat Denny Heck of Olympia; he represents the newly-created 10th District. That’s because Kilmer’s victory margin of 59 percent just edged out Heck’s 58.6 percent. Heck will get the painting next year.
Kilmer, according to a spokesman, said: “The painting has been in Congress longer than I’ve been alive. … I intend to hang it next to my life-sized poster of Russell Wilson as both have been described as too young and too short to succeed.”
Former U.S. Rep. Joel Pritchard bought the picture in 1972 for either 50 bucks or 50 cents. Dicks received in when he got to Congress in 1977, and all the subsequent House freshmen have hung — or hid — the artwork in their office.