WA: Senate Democrats choose Brown to succeed Snyder
Brown, the only Democratic senator from east of the Cascades, succeeds Sen. Sid Snyder, who announced Tuesday that he is resigning.
"We are pretty anxious to roll up our sleeves and get to work on some the issues facing the state," such as the budget and transportation, Brown told The Associated Press by telephone during her flight back to Spokane. She was elected by Senate Democrats at a meeting at a SeaTac hotel south of Seattle.
It was unclear Sunday whether Brown would be majority or minority leader. With some absentee ballots remaining to be counted from Tuesday's election, Republicans were leading in the race for control of the Senate but the outcome was uncertain.
In the only Senate race still too close to call, incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Oke was leading Democrat Betty Ringlee by 202 votes in the 26th District, which includes parts of Kitsap and Pierce counties.
More absentees will be counted next week. The close margin could force an automatic recount, which is required if the candidates are separated by less then half of 1 percent of the total votes cast.
Brown vied with Caucus Chairwoman Harriet Spanel of Bellingham to succeed Snyder.
Brown holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Colorado and is a professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership at Gonzaga University.
She has been chairwoman for two years of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which deals with all budget and tax measures. She is a passionate defender of education and children, social programs and the environment and has been considered one of the Senate's more liberal members.
Brown was first elected to the House from the 3rd District in 1992 and re-elected in 1994. She won a Senate seat in 1996 and was re-elected in 2000.
She is a single mother. When her son Lucas was a toddler, she raised eyebrows by bringing him onto the House floor after the day-care center closed for the day.
Like many, she was surprised by Snyder's decision to resign.
Snyder, 76, a Long Beach grocer, cited family considerations for his decision. He said his wife, Bette, 79, is having health problems and that he needs to spend more time with her. He called his departure one of the hardest decisions he has ever made.
Snyder has been a fixture at the Legislature going back to 1949, when he got a job as an elevator operator. He served as assistant chief clerk of the House from 1957 to 1969, when he was elected top administrator for the Senate. He held that position until 1988.
In 1990, he was appointed to fill a vacant Senate seat, and was elected later that year. He was been re-elected three times. He was elected caucus chairman as a freshman and won the Democratic leadership post in 1995, serving as minority leader or majority leader, depending on whether his party was in power or in the minority.
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