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Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib leaves state for seminary before the end of his term

Habib has been in California since September. He announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election in order to join the clergy.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib has been on an unpaid leave of absence and living in California since September.

Habib, a Democrat, announced earlier this year that he wouldn't seek re-election as he started the process of becoming a priest.

His office on Tuesday confirmed that Habib stopped drawing his $117,300 salary Sept. 1, but they said he is still serving as lieutenant governor.

A spokeswoman says he continues to be in regular contact with the office and approves any documents that go out under his signature. The lieutenant governor also steps in to serve as governor when the governor is out of state or incapacitated, and is the first in the line of succession. The lieutenant governor also presides over the state senate.

Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters on Tuesday that Habib's absence from Washington would not interrupt state business, including if there is a special session.

"What I've been advised in the last hour or so is that the senate has provisions, so that will not be a problem," Inslee said. "I don't see this as an impediment. We can find another presiding officer. Frankly, his vote is not the deciding vote at this moment, given the makeup of the legislature."

Habib, an up-and-coming politician, had served in the state Legislature and started his term as lieutenant governor in 2017.

Nearly a dozen candidates lined up to take Habib's seat after his announcement that he would not seek re-election.

Two Democrats, State Senate Majority Leader Marko Liias and Congressman Denny Heck, emerged from the primary and face off on November's general election ballot for Habib's vacated seat.