Politics & Government

GOP state Senator staying in Olympia, won’t join Trump administration

Washington Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, talks to reporters, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Washington Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, talks to reporters, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia. Associated Press file photo

State Sen. Doug Ericksen said Monday he will not join the Environmental Protection Agency, contradicting a federal official who said the Ferndale Republican had been appointed to the agency.

An executive assistant for Chris Hladick, the regional administrator for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska Region told the Bellingham Herald on Friday that Ericksen was to be the senior adviser to the Region 10 administrator in Seattle.

On Monday, Ericksen said that information was incorrect.

“I’m going to be a senator in Washington state,” he said. “I’m sitting here at my desk today doing my job for the people of Whatcom County and the 42nd District.”

Ericksen largely declined to give details about whether he was offered the job and specifically turned it down. But he said he has had “job offers over the past year” from the Trump administration he decided not to take.

Ericksen said he plans to run for reelection to the state Senate in 2018.

“If the Trump administration called up and would like me to be the ambassador to Australia, maybe I would consider that but I’m not going to anticipate that happening any time soon,” he said.

Ericksen, a Trump ally who was a top deputy for the president’s campaign in Washington state, already served in a temporary job at the EPA in the early months of 2017. He was the communications director for the agency’s transition team, while also working as a state Senator.

The dual roles garnered him both praise and controversy at the time. Some questioned whether he could practically — or legally — maintain both positions.

Ericksen was first elected to Washington’s Legislature in 1998, and he served in the state House for a decade. In 2010, he was elected to the state Senate.

In recent years he chaired the chamber’s Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. Since Democrats now have a majority in the state Senate after beating the GOP in a recent special election, Ericksen is currently the ranking minority member of the Senate’s environmental committee.

Walker Orenstein: 360-786-1826, @walkerorenstein