The state House Republican Caucus named Rep. Bruce Chandler, a conservative orchardist from Granger, as its leading voice on the House Appropriations Committee later this year. Chandler is scheduled to replace Republican Rep. Gary Alexander of Thurston County who is running for county auditor (a post he holds by appointment) and plans to step down after the Nov. 5 election.
Chandler has served as House Republican leader in 2005 but lost that position to Richard DeBolt, who is from Chehalis. DeBolt stepped down early this year due to health problems. Rep. Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish took his place as minority leader.
The House GOP put out a news release announcing the outcome of the vote, indicating that Chandler had competition for the job. The release quotes Chandler as saying, in part:
“The budget is about more than just numbers – it impacts our families and communities for years to come. ... What I’ve learned in agriculture, I also believe about the state budget: we must look long-term for the best solutions to ensure our state is positioned for prosperity in the future. House Republicans strongly believe that prioritizing the budget according to the critical duties of government is the best way to appropriate the hard-earned dollars sent to us by taxpayers. I’ll be proud to lead a strong group of Republicans who serve on the Appropriations Committee, as we work to adopt budgets for which our constituents can be proud.”The news release also quotes Kristiansen:
“Bruce emerged from a talented group of Washington House Republican candidates for this position. It became clear that his experience, negotiating skills and compassion made him the right fit. Anyone who knows Bruce can tell you he is fiscal conservative whose heart is with people who are struggling. ... We will miss Gary, but the lessons he leaves us will be invaluable moving forward.”Among those who appeared capable and likely successors to Alexander was Rep. J.T. Wilcox, a second-term Republican from the Yelm area. But Wilcox, who serves as assistant ranking Republican on Appropriations, was quoted as saying:
“Bruce Chandler has spent his time in Olympia quietly amassing an exhaustive mastery of the issues that face the people of Washington. He stands up squarely for struggling people all over the state. ... There could be no better choice for this post. Bruce has been a mentor and friend to me from the first moment I stepped into the Capitol.”Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter of Medina is chairman of Appropriations, and Republican Sen. Andy Hill chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, where conservative Democratic Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam serves as its ranking minority member.