WA State: Rep. Kessler once again in No. 2 spot

By Paula Horton - Daily World Writer


State Rep. Lynn Kessler, D - Hoquiam, will once again serve as majority leader in the House of Representatives.

In fact, the top four leaders in the House retained their positions as the House Democrats met over the weekend to elect the speaker, majority leader, caucus chair and whip.

Reps. Frank Chop and Sharon Tomiko Santos, both of Seattle, were re - elected as speaker and Democratic Whip, respectively, while Bill Grant, D - Walla Walla, was selected as the caucus chairman.

"We kind of have this urban - rural thing going here," Kessler said this morning.

The rest of the leadership positions will be elected during Assembly Days, Dec. 5 - 6.

"I'm honored for the support of this dynamic group of people," Chopp said in a written statement after he was re - elected speaker. "Now we are in an even stronger position to build on our past successes and to keep working together for one Washington."

Democrats controlled the House with a slim 50 - 48 majority this year and last. Absentee ballots are still being counted, but preliminary results indicate Democrats should improve their House majority to 53 members.

The Committee on Committees - a 15 - member group that determines who will serve on each committee - was also nominated over the weekend, Kessler said.

They scheduled five "intensive" meetings that will start on Nov. 26 and continue during the first week of December.

"That will give us our committee structure, committee chairs and committee members," Kessler said. "We come up with the recommendations and the rest of the caucus approves them."

Kessler and 19th District Rep. Brian Hatfield of Raymond both serve on the committee.

"He will, I'm sure, be re - elected as our floor leader," Kessler said of Hatfield. "He is a big part of the Committee on the Committees."

Hatfield's 19th District seat - mate, Mark Doumit, D - Cathlamet, was taken off the committee because he's seeking to fill Sid Snyder's Senate seat, Kessler said.

Snyder resigned on Election Day. The 19th District Democrats will meet on Sunday, Nov. 24 to choose a list of three candidates to replace the veteran senator.

Commissioners in the three counties served by the 19th would then vote to choose Snyder's replacement from the list.

Hatfield, who is ninth among House Democrats in seniority, decided not to pursue the vacant Senate seat because of his leadership position. He says he's also seeking the chairmanship of the House Transportation Committee.

Kessler said Hatfield will probably be put on some key committees, but it's doubtful he can chair the Transportation Committee and retain his leadership position.

"I really believe his skill and expertise has just blossomed and flourished in leadership," she said. "I'm trying to convince him that staying in leadership ä is where he will shine and be very effective."

Kessler said Hatfield is "young, bright and energetic," and the 19th District needs someone like him in leadership positions to ensure the rural district continues to be represented.

"I think very highly of him and I just think he has the potential to rise up even further," Kessler said.


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