Senate Republicans chose Mark Shoesler as their new minority leader yesterday, November 28th. Replacing Senator Mike Hewitt who stepped down earlier this fall but will retain his seat in the Senate, Shoesler most previously served on the Senate Ways & Means and Rules committees. Shoesler is a 20 year veteran of the Senate and hails from rural Ritzville in Eastern Washington.
As a member of Ways & Means Shoesler has helped write the state budget, and according to the Tacoma News Tribune, “has been a loud opponent of anything he sees as government waste.” His appointment is important in that Senate leadership is currently at a potential tipping point. One lone race between incumbent Republican, Don Benton, and current Democratic House member, Tim Probst, has yet to be officially decided. Benton currently leads by 86 votes and if he is successful in retaining his seat will push the number of Republican seats in the Senate to 24. If that happens the Democrats will continue to retain a majority with 26 seats, but two Democrats who have been known to cross the isle and vote with Republicans could enable the Republicans to gain a majority. If that happens it could lead to an interesting split in the Senate with any number of scenarios playing out. A recount for the Benton/Probst race is set to begin Monday, December 5th.