Update | 3 p.m.
Democrat Jonathon Dunn, who had been challenging Roach, announced Wednesday afternoon he will instead run for the state House seat being vacated by Dahlquist.
State Rep. Cathy Dahlquist announced Tuesday night she will challenge fellow Republican state Sen. Pam Roach this fall, setting up a rare battle between two lawmakers of the same party.
Dahlquist, of Enumclaw, a former school-board member who has focused on education issues in her two terms in the state House, will be considered an underdog against Roach, of Auburn, who has 24 years experience and is the GOP’s longest-serving state senator. But it could be an intense fight in a conservative district.
Roach, one of the state’s most conservative senators, has clashed with colleagues in the past. Earlier this year, she said she would remove her name from the website of the Senate’s Republican-led coalition, in part because of moderate moves made by leaders.
“I just feel like the residents of the 31st District deserve to be represented,” Dahlquist said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “It’s been too long since that happened.”
Roach, reached at home, did not seem particularly concerned about the challenge.
She noted that Dahlquist recently resigned as the ranking member of the state House Education Committee after complaining about the process of a negotiation with Democrats.
“This is somebody who has a hard time deciding what she wants to do,” said Roach, adding that she’s “very happy to share what I’ve been able to accomplish for my district.”
Washington state’s top-two primary will allow the top finishers, regardless of party, to advance to the November General Election.
The 49-member Senate is currently controlled by the Majority Coalition Caucus of 24 Republicans and two Democrats.