Winning a 5th term in the Washington State Senate, Don Benton today released a Press Release announcing the expected Bipartisan Senate Coalition many have hoped for some time now.
For Immediate Release For Interviews Contact:
Dec. 10, 2012 Sen. Don Benton (360) 786-7632
Benton announces formation of Senate bipartisan coalition
Unprecedented commitment to work together made possible by Clark County senator’s election
OLYMPIA…Sen. Don Benton, whose re-election to the state Senate was certified Friday, today announced he will be part of a new Majority Coalition Caucus that will lead the state Senate during the 2013 legislative session.
“There’s much for the Legislature to address this next year, starting with state government’s finances, and jobs, and more reforms in state government, and the best way to get there is with the ‘philosophical majority’ we’ve established today,” said Benton, R-Vancouver.
As the Senate’s new deputy Republican leader, he was among the Republican and Democratic senators gathered at the Capitol to make public their unprecedented plan to not only work together but govern together once groundbreaking changes are made in how Senate committees operate.
The formation of the new bipartisan Senate majority hinged on Benton returning for a fifth term in the Senate. His election victory will give Republicans 23 seats in the Senate once legislators convene on Jan. 14, enough that the 23 Republicans and two Democratic senators – Sen. Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch – will hold a majority in the 49-member Senate.
“This will be the first time in history that our state Senate has seen a power-sharing coalition such as this, and we are confident that we will be able to work closely with one another to get Washington back on track fiscally,” Benton said. “Our intent is to put policy ahead of politics and cooperate at a level that is almost unheard of, especially when you look at the bickering going on in Washington, D.C. I’m proud that my election allowed this breakthrough to happen.
“I have served with Senator Tom and Senator Sheldon in the Legislature for many years, and when I led the charge late in the 2012 session to form a bipartisan coalition in the Senate, they were right there with me and critical to our success. I’ve been in regular contact with them since the November election; they have been wishing me well and watching the outcome of my race closely, knowing what it could mean for our state,” Benton said.
The most remarkable thing about the new majority coalition, Benton said, is its commitment to evenly divide control of the Senate’s 15 policy and fiscal committees between Democrats and Republicans.
“This is our chance to show what true shared power and bipartisanship looks like in our state – something they couldn’t even dream about in the ‘other Washington’,” said Benton. “We have worked out an agreement through which the Democrats will chair six committees and the Republicans will chair six committees and both will co-chair the remaining three committees.
“The coalition caucus of 23 Republicans and two Democrats will, however, determine what bills come to the floor of the Senate for a vote, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to serve another term under these conditions. I am grateful to work with Senators Sheldon and Tom, who understand that we need to work together to do what’s best for the people of Washington.”
Additional Contact: Eric Campbell (360) 786-7503 or Eric.Campbell@leg.wa.gov
Please visit Sen. Benton’s Web site: http://www.senaterepublicans.wa.gov/benton
The intent of such an unprecedented cooperation between Senate Democrats and Republicans was made known by Moderate Democrats Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon earlier, contingent up Benton’s reelection, defeating a strong vitriolic assault by the Democrat Party on behalf of Tim Probst.
The earlier announcement was met with scorn by Progressive Democrat Representative from the 49th Legislative District, Jim Moeller.
Our state has been under the stranglehold of Progressive Democrats like Moeller long enough and I welcome this coalition to give the minority more of a voice and move our Senate towards the center on important issues.
More information at the Olympian: 2 Democrats to work with GOP to control state Senate