Washington state’s precariously balanced Senate ranks lost one member today, as Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, resigned to become a special assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture in the nation’s capital.

A former Ferry County commissioner, Dansel has held the 7th legislative district Senate seat since December 2013. He was elected to a full four-year term the next year.

Republican party precinct committee officers in Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Orville and Spokane counties will now come up with a list of three candidates to replace Dansel, with county commissioners from all five counties making a selection from that list. 

As this legislative district is in a traditionally Republican area, it is likely that the Majority Coalition that is currently controlling the state Senate will retain GOP leadership.

“I’m confident that our caucus will remain strong and this should have no effect on the Senate’s ability to pass an education funding plan or a budget,” says Majority Leader Mark Schoesler in a news release this afternoon. “It’s good to see Washington state getting a seat at the table in the new (President Trump) administration,” says Schoesler, R-Ritzville.

State capital observers predict there may be a replacement senator selected by the first week of February.