In shocker, GOP-led state Senate ousts Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson

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OLYMPIA - The Washington Senate voted 25-21 on Friday not to confirm Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson, effectively firing her after three years.

In an extraordinary and contentious hearing Friday afternoon, the Senate voted 25-21 to deny her confirmation.

"This is a time of crisis for our transportation system and Secretary Peterson has shown she does not have the capability to manage it,” said Sen. Michael Baumgartner. “Governor Inslee has treated his many secretary appointees as spoils of a campaign victory, choosing unqualified and incapable leaders of our state’s critical agencies.”

The Associated Press reported it's the first time since 1998 that a gubernatorial nominee has been denied.

“Today’s vote by Senate Republicans is a blatant misuse of the confirmation process for political purposes," said Jaime Smith, Gov. Jay Inslee's communications director. "Republican’s actions today do nothing to engender confidence about their ability to focus on the important priorities facing legislators this session."

Republicans who led the charge to oust Peterson cited several troubled WSDOT projects in recent years, including the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel; the new toll lanes on I-405, and the Highway 520 bridge pontoons.

"Being nice ain’t enough," Baumgartner said. "You have to be capable.”