State Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, said Friday he plans to step down as the Senate Republican leader.
The announcement comes after news broke on Thursday that Senate Republicans were considering backing conservative Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom as a coalition Senate majority leader.
Hewitt was elected to the Senate in 2000 and became Senate Republican leader in December 2005. The Senate GOP caucus is expected to elect a new Republican leader on Nov. 28.
“This is the right time for me to step back and encourage a new model of leadership in the state Senate. I want to promote new Senate leadership from the center. Focusing on centrist policy rather than party labels is what will make the people of Washington a winner,” Hewitt said in a statement.
He noted that “my health challenges this past year have helped me focus on the important things of life.”
Hewitt had surgery in April at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle to remove a thymoma tumor.