GOP state senators Monday elected Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, their new majority leader. Schoesler replaces outgoing Sen. Rodney Tom, a Democrat, who retired this year rather than run for re-election.
Tom and Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, crossed the aisle two years ago to caucus with Republicans and form the GOP-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus.
“I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for their vote of confidence and am eager to continue working on solutions for the people of Washington,” said Schoesler in remarks posted to the coalition caucus’s webpage. “It’s time to govern and roll up our sleeves to find a better way to improve job growth, fund and reform education and make college more affordable. Our focus as a coalition has always been to put people above politics.”
Schoesler had been Senate Republican leader for the past two years.
Even with an outright majority coming into the 2015 legislative session, the Majority Coalition Caucus name will remain, according to Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup. Sheldon will continue to caucus with Republicans, according to Dammeier.
Dammeier called the results an indication of stability.
GOP senators also elected: Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee as chair of the caucus, Sen. Joe Fain of Covington as floor leader, Sen. Jon Braun of Centralia as deputy leader, Sen. Ann Rivers of La Center as whip and Sen. Jan Angel of Port Orchard as vice chair of the caucus.