A key figure in the Washington State Senate’s Republican caucus has died after battling a recurrence of lung cancer, his colleagues and family divulged today.
Senator Andy Hill (R-45th District: Redmond, Kirkland, Sammamish, Woodinville, Duvall) has been the Senate’s chief budget writer since late 2012. He assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Ways & Means Committee following Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon’s defection to the Republican Party four years ago, which resulted in Democrats becoming a minority in the Senate despite having been elected to a majority by the voters of Washington State in the 2012 elections.
Hill was first elected to the Washington State Senate in 2010, defeating Eric Oemig, and was narrowly reelected in 2014 to a second four-year term, overcoming a challenge from Navy veteran Matt Isenhower. A physics major, Andy was a program manager at Microsoft before becoming involved in PTSA and Lake Washington Youth Soccer/Crossfire. Together with his wife Molly, he has three children.
“In 2008, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, despite never having smoked,” noted a public letter posted on Hill’s campaign website acknowledging his death, put together by his good friend and colleague Joe Fain.
“Beating all the odds and through the use of a cutting-edge cancer treatment, Andy managed the disease for years living cancer free. With the new perspective of having come so close to death, Andy leaned further into community service.”
Sadly, Andy’s cancer came back, and has now taken his life.
Andy was my state senator, and I enjoyed interacting with him, despite our very different political views. Our last substantive conversation, which I remember fondly, took place last March, when I was in Olympia for the Washington State Supreme Court’s oral argument in Lee v. State, the case against Tim Eyman’s I-1366.
(I-1366 was Eyman’s scheme to wipe out $8 billion in sales tax funding over six years unless the Legislature agreed to change the state’s Constitution to make it impossible to raise revenue without a two-thirds vote.)
At the time, Andy was working on trying to finish negotiating the supplemental budget, while I had just finished liveblogging the goings-on at the Temple of Justice. After hearing what I’d been up to, Andy opined that he felt certain the Supreme Court would strike I-1366 down — a view long held by the team here at NPI. And a few weeks later, the Court did exactly that, rendering a unanimous verdict declaring the initiative unconstitutional in its entirety.
What stood out to me during that conversation were Andy’s perceptive and confident comments. He had clearly read up on the initiative, analyzed its defects, and concluded that it would not hold up in the courts.
I was glad to hear his take on the case, for it demonstrated that he understood the incredibly destructive consequences of I-1366’s implementation.
After we wrapped up our discussion, I found myself wishing he had been part of our campaign against I-1366 only a few months prior. I would have enjoyed campaigning alongside him to defeat that awful initiative.
Last year, Andy was encouraged to run against Governor Jay Inslee by a number of well known Republicans, including the distinguished Sam Reed, but he demurred, and for good reasons, choosing to put his family and personal health first.
Today, Governor Inslee was one of the first to react to news of Hill’s passing, stating: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Andy Hill. Trudi and I extend our condolences to Molly, their three children, and Andy’s family and friends. Senator Hill was dedicated legislator who served with distinction. He was a strong champion for education and a compassionate advocate for people with disabilities. His voice in Olympia will be missed.”
“Andy was a strong advocate for his East King County district,” added King County Executive Dow Constantine in a statement on behalf of King County. “I am grateful for his work to expand access to cultural programs and secure dedicated funding for public health. He leaves a legacy of compassion and pragmatism, and we at King County offer condolences to his family and friends.”
“Andy Hill embodied what it means to be a public servant,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “He was a pleasure to work with, both professionally and personally. Andy’s dedication to hard work and mastery of detail resulted in a thorough and thoughtful approach to policy. His independence and commitment to the state of Washington made collaborating with him downright enjoyable. My heart goes out to Andy’s wife Molly and their three children as they grieve this enormous loss.”
“We are heartbroken by the passing of a true servant leader and exemplary father, husband, friend and colleague,” said David Ammons, Communications Director for Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “Senator Hill was one of the ‘best and the brightest’ and will be sorely missed at the Capitol and across the state. His collaborative, collegial style was a model for us all.”
“Andy’s selfless courage to overcome his first encounter with cancer and seek public office, serving the state and its citizens until the cancer returned this summer, is an inspiration to all of us,” said State Republican Chair Susan Hutchison.
She added: “We will miss his intellect, good humor, his ability to solve complex problems and bring people together across the political aisle. He is a model for citizenship and service for all those in public life.”
“Andy Hill was a dedicated public servant respected by Democrats and Republicans,” said Washington State Democratic Party Chair Jaxon Ravens. “His service in Olympia and in his community proved there is much more that unites us than divides us. I join other Washingtonians in grieving over his loss.”
“We are grieved to hear of the passing of Senator Andy Hill,” said King County Democratic Chair Rich Erwin and 45th Legislative District Democratic Chair Ken Albinger in a joint statement. “Senator Hill was a devoted father, parishioner, state lawmaker, and community leader entrusted by his caucus with the important responsibility of negotiating with House Democrats and Governor Inslee on state budgets. We appreciated Andy’s willingness as one of our elected representatives to engage us and our legislative action teams on many issues of mutual concern.”
“We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Molly, their three children, and his many friends, and commend them for faithfully supporting Andy during his multiple battles against cancer.”
Memorial services for Andy have been scheduled for Friday, November 11th, but further details are not yet available. I will update this post when they are.