LOCAL NEWS

Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen dies

Dec 18, 2021, 4:41 PM | Updated: Dec 20, 2021, 11:02 am
doug ericksen...
Washington State Sen. Doug Ericksen. (Office of Sen. Doug Ericksen)
(Office of Sen. Doug Ericksen)

Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) has died, according to the Washington State Senate Republican Caucus.

Ericksen represents the 42nd District in Whatcom County. His family shared a statement with the caucus:

“We are heartbroken to share that our husband and father passed away on Friday, Dec. 17. Please keep our family in your prayers and thank you for continuing to respect our privacy in this extremely difficult time.”

Ericksen, 52, leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

Gov. Inslee said, in a statement, “Trudi and I send our deep condolences to Sen. Doug Ericksen’s family, friends and colleagues. Our hearts are with them.”

Ericksen confirmed to KIRO Radio in mid-November that he was in rough shape after testing positive for COVID-19 on a trip to El Salvador.

Reports first surfaced on Twitter from an account known as “Rotunda Tweets,” which included a screenshot of an email from Ericksen to members of the state House and Senate GOP, asking that they send him monoclonal antibodies to treat his illness.

Ericksen confirmed those reports later that morning to KIRO Radio, although his reason for traveling to El Salvador in the first place remained unclear. He expressed in his email to colleagues that he had tested positive for COVID shortly after arriving in the country.

About a week later, the Associated Press reported the senator was in stable condition at a Florida hospital after a medevac flight, according to a former state lawmaker.

Luanne Van Werven, who served with Ericksen in the Legislature from 2014 to 2020, had told The Bellingham Herald that Ericksen was definitely on the road to recovery.

“It was obviously serious when he was back in El Salvador, but he’s definitely on the mend,” Van Werven, of Lynden, told the newspaper, saying he was in a hospital in Fort Lauderdale.

Van Werven said she texted with Ericksen and spoke to his wife, Tasha Ericksen, by phone and said that the family had given her permission to share his condition.

She said Ericksen wished he could be home in northern Whatcom County, where large parts of his district were inundated by severe flooding.

It wasn’t known if he was vaccinated against COVID-19. El Salvador has a high rate of COVID spread, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against travel to the country unless fully vaccinated.

Ericksen has previously opposed vaccine mandates and pushed the state to ease many measures enacted to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig released a statement Saturday night:

“I wish peace and comfort for Sen. Ericksen’s family. His passing at such a young age is tragic. I served with Sen. Ericksen for more than a decade, and got to know him well over that time. While we often disagreed on policy, I respected his long service to his community.

“My colleagues and I in the Senate Democratic Caucus mourn tonight with his family and friends.”

Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, released the following statement:

“I am deeply saddened by the news that Doug passed away yesterday. My prayers and thoughts are with his wife, Tasha, and his daughters. Doug could be larger than life and our caucus will miss him greatly. He was passionate about his duties as a member of the Legislature and dedicated to his constituents.”

Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, released a statement. It reads, in part:

“Doug was one of the giants of the Washington Legislature, a fearless voice for the principles he and his constituents held dear. Protection of individual rights and freedoms, preserving the people’s ability to influence their government, and maintaining good-paying jobs beyond the Seattle city limits. He delighted in calling state agencies and elected officials to account whenever they overstepped their bounds, as they so often do.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen dies