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:
4th Legislative District
Position 1: Suzanne Schmidt
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.