Washington State elects dead man into legislature

Washington State elects dead man into legislature
In possibly the biggest upset victory of the midterm elections on Tuesday, voters in suburban Seattle opted to keep a recently-deceased man in the state legislature.

Incumbent state Rep. Roger Freeman died shortly before Election Day, at the end of October, at the age of 48. He succumbed to colon cancer that had spread to his lungs and liver, according to KVAL.

Photo from housedemocrats.wa.gov

Freeman, one of two black representatives in the Washington State Legislature, held a six-point lead over his Republican opponent, Jack Dovey, as of late Tuesday.

"It's a day to remember Roger Freeman. It's a day to remember how he made us feel," said Martin Moore, Freeman's legislative director, according to KVAL.

Some voters interviewed by KVAL said they were unaware of Freeman’s passing, or had simply voted along party lines.

"I did not know that," said Steven Hinz, when told of Freeman’s death. "When did he pass away?"

Others said they still voted for Freeman so that the Democratic Party would be able to keep the seat in the state House’s 30th district.

Local Democrat leaders will now offer potential replacements to the King and Pierce County Councils. If the councils cannot select one, the state’s governor would then choose.

Freeman’s win is certainly not the first time a deceased candidate has achieved victory in a race for public office. Possibly the most famous instance occurred in 2000, when Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, running for US Senate, died in a plane crash months before the election. Voters still chose Carnahan - whose wife, Jean, was sent to Washington in his stead - over his opponent, John Ashcroft.

Shortly after Carnahan’s victory, then-newly-elected US President George W. Bush selected Ashcroft to be the US attorney general, a post Ashcroft held during the Bush administration’s tumultuous first term that included the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the ensuing global ‘War on Terror'.