State Sen. Nick Harper, who ousted an fellow Everett Democratic incumbent in a controversial 2010 primary and then quickly rose to become deputy caucus leader, has resigned.
In a statement released just after the close of a special session Saturday, Harper said, “Unfortunately my work in Olympia takes me away from my family far too much. They deserve a full-time husband and father just as the people of the 38th deserve a full-time Senator. I feel that I cannot be both at this time.”
The resignation, combined with Ed Murray’s election as Seattle mayor, means Senate Democrats have lost their top two leaders in as many days.
They also lost a seat this week, when Nathan Schlicher of Gig Harbor lost a special election.
Murray resigned as leader Friday, although he will temporarily remain in the Senate. David Frockt, also of Seattle, is taking his leadership post on an interim basis.
Harper, a 34-year-old attorney who grew up in Port Townsend, unseated Sen. Jean Berkey in 2010 in a primary that drew widespread attention when it was revealed that a liberal political consultant failed to report sources of third-party campaign spending that aimed to benefit Harper.
The consultant, Moxie Media, agreed to pay the state $290,000 in fines and legal costs.
When the Legislature convened that winter, another Democrat, Sen. Jim Kastama, tried unsuccessfully to deny Harper his seat.
Despite that rocky start, Harper rose quickly among his peers.
As deputy leader of the Democratic Caucus, he had been seen as a candidate for caucus leader in 2014.
He was also up for reelection in 2014.
Instead, he will leave a year early.
“The combination of legislative session, a series of special sessions, and interim responsibilities are important, exciting work, but require full time attention,” Harper said in his statement. “As a husband, father of two girls and an attorney, I feel that I am unable to meet that requirement.”
The Snohomish County Council will choose a replacement from a list of three candidates chosen by local party officials.