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Democrats move forward on replacing Sen. Ranker

January 19, 2019 GMT

Democrats in the 40th Legislative District have selected a tentative date to vote on nominees to replace state Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island.

Democratic precinct committee officers are planning to meet Feb. 2 in Bellingham to select three candidates for the vacant seat, said Anna Berch-Norton, acting chair of the 40th District Democrats Executive Board.

Ranker resigned Jan. 11 amid a sexual harassment investigation, according to the Associated Press.

Berch-Norton said she’s been in contact with the state Democratic Party, and it will determine the specifics of the replacement process.


The 40th District, which encompasses northwest Skagit County — including Anacortes — southwest Whatcom County and all of San Juan County, has been represented by Ranker in the Senate since 2009.

After the precinct committee officers select three nominees for the seat, the governing boards from the three counties within the district will then meet to select Ranker’s replacement.

Five people have now announced their candidacy for the seat, the most recent being Learner Limbach, general manager and co-founder of the Orcas Food Co-op.

Limbach has never held public office, but said he was motivated to get more involved in politics after serving on the Democratic National Committee’s platform committee in 2016.

Since then, he’s served on the state Democratic Party’s Central Committee, as well as its Environment and Climate Caucus and the Agriculture and Rural Caucus, he said.

“This is the next way for me to be of service to my community,” he said. “We need bold, progressive values to be represented.”

Limbach said he supports Gov. Jay Inlsee’s proposal for a capital gains tax and would fight in the Senate for more protection for orca whales, affordable housing funding and support for farmers.

Former state Rep. Kristine Lytton, Whatcom County Councilman Rud Browne, Anacortes City Councilwoman Liz Lovelett and San Juan County Councilman Jamie Stephens have also expressed interest in the seat.

However, Berch-Norton said it is unclear whether Browne and Stephens are eligible candidates, considering they sit on boards that would be responsible for selecting Ranker’s replacement.

She said she is awaiting clarification from the state party on that issue.