Another Democratic leader quits Senate post

Sen. Nick Harper says he will leave the Senate to concentrate on his family.
Crosscut archive image.

Nick Harper

Sen. Nick Harper says he will leave the Senate to concentrate on his family.

Three years after his controversial election, state Sen. Nick Harper, D-Everett, has resigned for personal reasons, it was announced Saturday.

“I have come to realize that my constituents ... would be better served by someone who can fully commit their time to a job that requires undivided dedication," Harper said in a news release. "The combination of legislative session, a series of special sessions, and interim responsibilities are important, exciting work, but require full time attention. As a husband, father of two girls and an attorney, I feel that I am unable to meet that requirement."

The 34-yar-old attorney was deputy leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus. His departure adds to the churn in the Senate for Democrats. The Senate's Democratic leader, Ed Murray, just resigned the leadership position to concentrate on the transition to becoming mayor of Seattle. A caucus meeting is scheduled later this month to replace Ed Murray; Sen. David Frockt holds the position on an interim basis.

Harper was elected senator in 2010 after a Seattle political consulting firm orchestrated a secret campaign to ambush the incumbent Sen. Jean Berkey, D-Everett. Berkey, who died in August at the age of 75, was a moderate, and Harper is liberal. Consulting firm Moxie Media — backed by union cash — secretly put cash behind a marginal conservative Republican candidate Rod Rieger. The stealth campaign financed ads that attacked Berkey as a tax-and-spend liberal.

The plan was to attack Berkey from the right, splitting off conservative who would have supported her over the liberal Harper. The plan worked. It bumped Berkey to third place in a primary that sent the top two vote-getters, Democrat Harper and the long-shot Republican Rieger, to the November 2010 election. Harper easily won.

Harper has always denied knowledge of the scheme. The state fined Moxie Media $290,000 for lying on campaign funding disclosures.

The 38th District Democratic Party will submit three candidates to the Snohomish County Commissioners, and the commissioners to pick Harper's replacement. The 38th District's two state representatives are Mike Sells of Everett and John McCoy of Tulalip.

For exclusive coverage of the state government, check out Crosscut's Olympia 2013 page.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors

John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government and the environment. He can be reached on email at and on Twitter at @johnstang_8