There is a high probability of another long session looming, leading to several lawmakers announcing they will not seek reelection in 2018, with more announcing every day.
“It’s almost like we need to be a full-time Legislature, or figure out a different schedule,” Representative Lytton said to The Seattle Times.
As of the end of March, 13 lawmakers have announced they will not be seeking reelection, leaving a large vacuum of political power in Olympia. Political jockeying to fill those voids of power has already begun.
The surprise retirement announcement of Senator Sharon Nelson (34th – Vashon Island), who is the current Majority Leader in the Senate, will mean that no matter what happens in November the Washington Legislature will have a completely new leadership structure. Several Democratic Senators have started throwing their names into the mix as the potential new leader.
In the Senate Republican Caucus, Michael Baumgartner (6th – Cheney) has announced he will be running for Spokane County Treasurer, instead of seeking another term as Senator. Rep. Jeff Holy, Sen. Baumgartner’s current seat mate, will be vying for this seat.
IIn the House of Representatives, three House Democratic Chairs have also announced their retirement:
- Rep. Kristine Lytton (40th – Anacortes), Chair of the Finance Committee
- Rep. Ruth Kagi (32nd – Shoreline), Chair of the Early Learning & Human Services Committee
- Rep. Judy Clibborn (41st – Mercer Island), Chair of the Transportation Committee
On the Republican side of the aisle, 9 GOP House members have announced their retirement, including the House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen (39th – Monroe). J.T. Wilcox (2nd– Yelm), who was the Deputy Minority leader, was elected as the new leader before the Legislature adjourned.
This large exodus of lawmakers means that the Legislature will have a lot of new personalities and new leadership in all four legislative chambers come 2019.