WA state Sen. Schoesler steps down as minority leader, Sen. Braun assumes role

Dec 3, 2020, 7:09 AM | Updated: 7:59 am
Senator Mark Schoesler...
Senator Mark Schoesler represents the 9th Legislative District. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Schoesler)
(Photo courtesy of Sen. Schoesler)

Washington state Sen. Mark Schoesler stepped down from his role as Senate Minority Leader, but not as a Republican who is serving the Senate. Schoesler told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that he had eight years in the role, and he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family.

“Ronald Reagan had eight years, I’ve had eight years,” he said. “It’s meant missing a lot of things with my grandkids, and my children, and my wife. And at some point, my farm and my family has a priority in life, and just being there because isn’t good enough.”

He said earlier this week that there are capable leaders in the pipeline that could take the role.

“There are qualified people interested, and I’m confident there will be a strong, capable Republican leader to succeed me,” Schoesler said.

On Wednesday, Sen. John Braun, fresh off his election to a third term representing the 20th Legislative District, was selected to replace Schoesler as Senate Republican Leader. Braun has served as lead Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee since 2017, and is a U.S. Navy veteran who continues to serve as a captain in the Navy Reserve.

Sen. Schoesler did tell the Jason Rantz Show that anyone who takes a leadership role should be safe in their own districts, and will have to take some hard votes.

“First of all, the leader of every caucus I’ve seen is generally pretty safe in their own districts,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll see strong challenges to Senator Billig, Representative Jenkins, … I had about 65% in my last election. Because if you have to look over your shoulder, you can’t take votes.”

“And at the end of the day, you have to put the needs of the state, needs of the caucus, sometimes ahead of your own,” he added. “Whether you are in Congress, whether you’re in the state Legislature, when you become leader, you have to be able to take more challenging votes. You can’t hide.”

Schoesler says the results in the last election did not play a role in his decision.

“Really, over the past year, it’s been all of the work and not much of the fun,” he said. “I woke up and I realized that my wife was very happy with the decision that I stepped back a little bit. I’ve got grandkids that I really want to watch them exhibit at fairs, go to junior rodeos, little league games, take them fishing.”

“When you are leader, you say, well, I’d really like to take the grandkids to Williams Lake this weekend, but I got to get over to Bellevue and work on fundraising, I’ve got to be recruiting in Southwest Washington. You just can’t give the job the full time and attention it needs, if you are going to do a good job.”

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His children grew up while he was a member of the Legislature, and he says there was a lot of upside to it, but he of course didn’t make every baseball game or every event.

“So with that, you know, I’ve had eight great years. I’ve got great staff, some really capable members, but at some point, you just say somebody else could do this and do it pretty well,” he said. “… I still want to be engaged in a very meaningful role as leader, not as former leader, but as a senator, I want to be really engaged in the process and be in a position to make a difference from time to time.”

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WA state Sen. Schoesler steps down as minority leader, Sen. Braun assumes role