As state Sen. Mike Carrell diagnosed with a blood disease earlier this year awaits a bone-marrow transplant, friends are organizing an effort to raise money for expenses connected to his treatment.
The effort is just to make people aware as much as raise money, said Bob Gee, a member of a group of friends and constituents that has set up a website with a stated goal of raising at least $20,000 to help Carrell and his wife, Charlotte. Prayers and good wishes are appreciated as much as dollars. Maybe more so.
Carrell announced last month he had been diagnosed with a condition known as MDS, myelodysplastic syndrome, a precursor to leukemia.
The Lakewood Republican spent most of last week in the hospital with a high fever and intense pain, his aide said last week. But Carrell has returned home, and he recently received good news: His oldest brother is a match who can donate bone marrow.
His health could complicate the balance of power in the Senate, which Republicans and two breakaway Democrats control by a razor-thin 25-to-24 margin.
Senate Republicans and their allies have told him to stay home and rest, noting in a memo to Carrell that the upcoming Christian and Jewish holidays would prevent much action this week. They had planned to release a budget proposal this week but are now saying the timetable is uncertain.
I dont want to unduly jeopardize his health for something that just isnt critical to the mission, Republican leader Mark Schoesler said in an interview.
He said Carrell could be called back for an important vote or if someone decides they want to seize on his unfortunate situation.
His absence leaves a tie on the Senate floor, which Democrats have so far avoided exploiting. Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray said in a statement that Carrell is in our thoughts and prayers, but didnt make promises.
Instead, Murray revived language he also used late last year during an unsuccessful attempt to work out a power-sharing arrangement with Republicans. He wrote that Democrats want to find a way to work collaboratively in a way that would recognize the fluid nature of the Senate.
Carrell chairs a committee that oversees human services and corrections. Republican Sen. Kirk Pearson of Monroe is managing the panel, which on Monday gave a short-staffed but unanimous stamp of approval to Gov. Jay Inslees appointment to run the Department of Social and Health Services, Kevin Quigley.
Carrell had told constituents his diagnosis would not affect his participation in the legislative session. But that was before the most recent illness that landed him in the hospital and prompted concerns about limiting his exposure to germs in the Legislature.
Now that hes staying home, he is on the phone all day with his staff, giving input, according to a fundraising website.
Friends are asking for contributions on the website, helpmikemedical.org. The website said insurance would cover most of the estimated medical costs of $450,000 to $750,000 for Carrell, a retired high-school science teacher, but Gee said the couple will have to pay out of their own pockets for trips to Seattle and other related costs.
Gee said his wife, Jan, is working closely with state campaign-finance officials to make sure the fundraising effort follows the law. He said the Public Disclosure Commission has signed off on the website. A PDC spokeswoman wasnt available late Monday.
Because she is a lobbyist, Jan Gee is not donating, said her husband, who owns a commercial-equipment leasing company.