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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

Meet the Republicans joining the Washington State Legislature on January 9th, 2023

Editor’s Note: This is the sec­ond of two install­ments intro­duc­ing the peo­ple join­ing the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture in January.

On Jan­u­ary 9th, 2023, the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture will offi­cial­ly con­vene for its one hun­dred and five day long ses­sion with many new mem­bers and even stronger Demo­c­ra­t­ic majori­ties. Democ­rats will have a major­i­ty of twen­ty-nine in the Sen­ate and a major­i­ty of fifty-eight in the House. The par­ty ulti­mate­ly flipped one seat in the Sen­ate and one in the House in the Novem­ber midterms.

Repub­li­cans saw their num­bers shrink in what was expect­ed to be a “red wave” year. Although the Repub­li­cans will have small­er leg­isla­tive cau­cus­es in Olympia dur­ing the next two ses­sions, they are wel­com­ing sev­er­al brand new mem­bers on both sides of the Rotun­da from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent leg­isla­tive districts.

Here is a com­pendi­um of the Repub­li­cans about to join the Legislature:

Rostrum of the Washington State House of Representatives

Ros­trum of the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, as seen from the floor (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

4th Legislative District

Posi­tion 1: Suzanne Schmidt

Candidate portrait of Suzanne Schmidt

Suzanne Schmidt (Cam­paign photo)

Suzanne Schmidt will be tak­ing over for Bob McCaslin, who ran for Spokane Coun­ty Audi­tor this elec­tion cycle.

She went to Flaht­head Val­ley Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege, where she received an Asso­ciate of Arts degree, and to Spokane Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege, where she received an Asso­ciate of Applied Sci­ences degree.

She’s also a board mem­ber of both the Greater Spokane Val­ley Cham­ber of Com­merce and Com­mu­ni­ty Col­leges of Spokane Foundation.

She ran on reduc­ing reg­u­la­tions, cut­ting tax­es, and decreas­ing crime.

McCaslin chal­lenged incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Spokane Coun­ty Audi­tor Vic­ki Dal­ton and nar­row­ly lost.

Posi­tion 2: Leonard Christian

Candidate portrait of Leonard Christian

Leonard Chris­t­ian
(Cam­paign photo)

For­mer State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Leonard Chris­t­ian defeat­ed incum­bent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rob Chase, also a Repub­li­can. He went to Air Force Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege, where he received an Asso­ciate Degree, Embry Rid­dle Uni­ver­si­ty, where he received a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence, and to Web­ster Uni­ver­si­ty, where he received his MBA.

Chase, an acolyte of dis­graced ex-Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Matt Shea, “fol­lowed Shea’s foot­steps, spon­sor­ing sim­i­lar bills and shar­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries sur­round­ing COVID-19 and elec­tion fraud on his Face­book page,” accord­ing to the Spokesman-Review.

“Chase has spo­ken about his sup­port for mov­ing the Unit­ed States back to the gold stan­dard and for split­ting Wash­ing­ton into two states,” the paper added in a Novem­ber 8th sto­ry about the Repub­li­can-on-Repub­li­can con­test. “Chris­t­ian does not sup­port either of those ideas and has crit­i­cized Chase for spend­ing his time in the Leg­is­la­ture spon­sor­ing bills that he believes are a waste of time.”

Chris­t­ian is also a real estate bro­ker and a retired mas­ter sergeant of the U.S. Air Force. One of the key planks of his plat­form is to reduce taxes.

8th Legislative District

Posi­tion 1: Stephanie Barnard

Candidate portrait of Stephanie Barnard

Stephanie Barnard
(Cam­paign photo)

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive-elect Stephanie Barnard, a cur­rent precinct com­mit­tee offi­cer and Franklin Coun­ty Repub­li­can Par­ty Chair, went to Colum­bia Basin Col­lege and West­ern Governor’s University.

In the Tri-City Region­al Cham­ber of Com­merce, she was a for­mer direc­tor of Gov­ern­ment and Region­al Affairs, as well as a for­mer staff lead for the Tri-Cities Leg­isla­tive Council.

Accord­ing to her vot­er pam­phlet state­ment, she is “com­mit­ted to lim­it­ing gov­ern­ment, low­er­ing tax­es, sup­port­ing law enforce­ment, and pro­tect­ing our Snake Riv­er dams.”

Barnard suc­ceeds Repub­li­can Brad Klip­pert, who ran unsuc­cess­ful­ly against Dan New­house for Con­gress in the 4th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict and then unsuc­cess­ful­ly for Sec­re­tary of State as a write-in candidate.

Posi­tion 2: April Connors

Candidate portrait of April Connors

April Con­nors
(Cam­paign photo)

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive-elect April Con­nors got her BA from Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty and has been a real­tor for twen­ty-two years. She is also a cur­rent board mem­ber of the Kadlec Foundation.

She wants “good schools, more local jobs, and abun­dant hous­ing,” accord­ing to her vot­er pam­phlet statement.

She also is opposed to increas­ing reg­u­la­tions on law enforcement.

Con­nors suc­ceeds cur­rent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Matt Boehnke, who ran for the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate and won.

15th Legislative District

Posi­tion 2: Bryan Sandlin

Candidate portrait of Bryan Sandlin

Bryan San­dlin
(Cam­paign photo)

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive-elect Bryan San­dlin earned his bachelor’s degree from Wash­ing­ton State University.

He is cur­rent­ly the High­land Fruit Grow­ers’ field­man and food safe­ty coordinator/operations manager.

He is against defund­ing the police, and wants “to help put an end to Gov­ern­ment over­reach and return fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty to Wash­ing­ton State,” accord­ing to his voter’s pam­phlet statement.

San­dlin suc­ceeds Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jere­mie Dufault, who was drawn out of the 15th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict dur­ing last year’s redis­trict­ing process.

17th Legislative District

Posi­tion 1: Kevin Waters

Candidate portrait of Kevin Waters

Kevin Waters
(Cam­paign photo)

Kevin Waters served as the com­mis­sion­er for the port of Ska­ma­nia from 2010 to 2019, and is now head­ed to Olympia.

He went to East­ern Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty and is also exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Ska­ma­nia Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment Council.

His plat­form includes increas­ing fund­ing for law enforce­ment as well as reduc­ing tax­es and regulations.

Waters will be the suc­ces­sor to extrem­ist Repub­li­can Vic­ki Kraft, who decid­ed to leave the Leg­is­la­ture to chal­lenge Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler for Con­gress. Kraft fell well short of a top two spot in August.

18th Legislative District

Posi­tion 1: Stephanie McClintock

Candidate portrait of Stephanie McClintock

Stephanie McClin­tock
(Cam­paign photo)

Stephanie McClin­tock went to Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­si­ty, where she earned a bachelor’s in Busi­ness Management.

She has been elect­ed as a Precinct Com­mit­tee Offi­cer and was for­mer­ly the chair of the Clark Coun­ty Repub­li­can Party.

She wants to reduce what she sees as “reck­less spend­ing” and wants to make sure that police get the sup­port they need.

McClin­tock will be the suc­ces­sor to Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bran­don Vick, who did not seek reelection.

Posi­tion 2: Greg Cheney

Candidate portrait of Greg Cheney

Greg Cheney
(Cam­paign photo)

Greg Cheney earned a Bach­e­lor of Arts in His­to­ry from Wal­la Wal­la Uni­ver­si­ty, a Mas­ter of Arts in US His­to­ry from George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, and his JD from the Seat­tle Uni­ver­si­ty School of Law.

He wants to tack­le the men­tal health and addic­tion crises in our state, as he sees them as the main issues result­ing in our home­less­ness cri­sis; he also wants to increase the num­ber of well-pay­ing jobs in the Clark Coun­ty region, among oth­er priorities.

Cheney will be the suc­ces­sor to Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lar­ry Hoff, who did not seek reelection.

26th Legislative District

Posi­tion 1: Spencer Hutchins

Candidate portrait of Spencer Hutchins

Spencer Hutchins
(Cam­paign photo)

Spencer Hutchins attend­ed Gon­za­ga Uni­ver­si­ty, where he earned his BA, and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton Law School, where he earned his JD.

He also served on the Gig Har­bor City Coun­cil from 2017 to 2019.

He was los­ing on Elec­tion Night, but he came from behind to defeat Demo­c­ra­t­ic rival Adi­son Richards.

He’s stat­ed that he “will work to ensure law enforce­ment has the tools they need to keep us safe,” as well as “fight against ris­ing tax­es and pro­tect tax­pay­ers by hold­ing gov­ern­ment spend­ing accountable.”

Hutchins suc­ceeds embat­tled Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jesse Young, who left the House to run against Emi­ly Ran­dall for Sen­ate. Ran­dall defeat­ed Young and he will not be return­ing to the Legislature.

35th Legislative District

Posi­tion 2: Travis Couture

Candidate portrait of Travis Couture

Travis Cou­ture
(Cam­paign photo)

Travis Cou­ture, a vet­er­an of the U.S. Navy, went to Brand­man Uni­ver­si­ty, where he earned a BA and MBA.

He is also a for­mer chair­man of the Mason Coun­ty Repub­li­can Party.

Now elect­ed to the state Leg­is­la­ture, he wants to “restore pub­lic safe­ty, improve our schools, boost our econ­o­my, and pro­tect your Con­sti­tu­tion­al Rights.”

Cou­ture is the suc­ces­sor to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Drew MacEwen, who left the House to run for the Wash­ing­ton State Senate.

39th Legislative District

Posi­tion 1: Sam Low

Candidate portrait of Sam Low

Sam Low
(Cam­paign photo)

Sam Low went to MBU, where he received a master’s degree in orga­ni­za­tion­al leadership.

He is cur­rent­ly a Sno­homish Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber, chair of the Wash­ing­ton State Trans­porta­tion Improve­ment Board, and the Wash­ing­ton State Traf­fic Safe­ty Commissioner.

He will “pri­or­i­tize pub­lic safe­ty, pro­vide tax relief, reduce traf­fic con­ges­tion, and pro­mote fam­i­ly-wage jobs.”

Low was recruit­ed by J.T. Wilcox, the Minor­i­ty Leader of the House Repub­li­cans, to run against Doug Suther­land, a fer­vent Trump admir­er, and elec­tion denier… one of the most extreme Repub­li­cans in the Legislature.

Floor of the Washington State Senate

Floor of the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate (Pho­to: Lincolnite)

Two of these Repub­li­cans are not new to the Leg­is­la­ture, hav­ing all served in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives or in the Sen­ate before, but they were not part of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus in the pre­vi­ous bien­ni­um, so they’re get­ting hon­or­able men­tions in this post along with the third, who is new to the Legislature.

8th Legislative District

State Sen­a­tor: Matt Boehnke

Candidate portrait of Matt Boehnke

Matt Boehnke
(Cam­paign photo)

Sen­a­tor-elect Matt Boehnke, a retired Lieu­tenant Colonel in the US Army, for­mer Ken­newick city coun­cilmem­ber, and cur­rent State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, is mov­ing from the state House to the state Senate.

He earned a BA from East­ern Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty and a MAS from Embry-Rid­dle Aero­nau­ti­cal University.

He wants to reduce tax­es and has called for keep­ing edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy deci­sions at the local level.

Boehnke suc­ceeds State Sen­a­tor Sharon Brown, who opt­ed not to run for reelec­tion. Brown has unsuc­cess­ful­ly sought to be elect­ed to judi­cial office in recent years.

15th Legislative District

State Sen­a­tor: Nik­ki Torres

Campaign portrait of Nikki Torres

Nik­ki Tor­res
(Cam­paign photo)

Pas­co City Coun­cilmem­ber and now Sen­a­tor-elect Nik­ki Tor­res earned a master’s degree in busi­ness admin­is­tra­tion from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Phoenix.

She has also been a part of many orga­ni­za­tions, such as the Tri-Cities His­pan­ic Cham­ber of Com­merce, the Ken­newick Police Depart­ment Foun­da­tion, Tri-Cities Com­mu­ni­ty Health, and more. Accord­ing to her vot­er pam­phlet state­ment, she plans to “vote against waste­ful spend­ing and unfair tax­es,” as well as “sup­port law enforce­ment, men­tal health ser­vices, and afford­able hous­ing measures.”

Tor­res suc­ceeds retir­ing State Sen­a­tor Jim Hon­ey­ford, who did not seek reelection.

35th Legislative District

State Sen­a­tor: Drew MacEwen

Campaign portrait of Drew MacEwen

Drew MacEwen
(Cam­paign photo)

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive MacEwen went to Excel­sior Col­lege and received a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence, and he’s also a US Naval Nuclear Pow­er Pro­gram graduate.

In addi­tion, he’s “an invest­ment man­ag­er and a part­ner in two local restaurants.”

He was just elect­ed to the state Sen­ate, so he’s leav­ing the state house. He believes that “we need to return to a bal­anced state government.”

MacEwen suc­ceeds long­time State Sen­a­tor Tim Shel­don of Potlatch.

Shel­don, a Repub­li­can, con­tin­ued to call him­self a Demo­c­rat even after defect­ing to the Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus ten years ago, but was con­sid­ered a Repub­li­can by polit­i­cal observers due to his asso­ci­a­tion with the Republicans.

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