State Rep. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, announced on Tuesday she will run to succeed longtime Republican state Sen. Don Benton, also of Vancouver.
Wilson said she was approached by members of her party shortly after Benton made the announcement that he wouldn’t run for re-election.
It’s important to keep the Senate in Republican control, she said. Both the House and executive branch are controlled by Democrats.
“This is a Republican-leaning district, and I plan on winning so I can continue to represent my district,” she said.
Wilson is serving her first term in the state House.
“My priorities have been to promote policies that help foster job creation, fight higher taxes, eliminate government waste, and support education funding as the state’s number one budget priority,” Wilson said in a press release.
Wilson, whose term in the House expires later this year, would be giving up her chance to run for re-election to her House seat.
Wilson is an ardent conservative who carved out a reputation as a vocal gun-rights advocate. She also served as chairwoman of the Clark County GOP as the party shifted further right philosophically.
Wilson co-owns and operates DeWils Industries with her family. The kitchen cabinet manufacturing company employs about 130 people.
“I’m truly excited for the opportunity to run for the state Senate, and represent this great district as its next state Senator in Olympia,” Wilson said in a statement.
State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, whose history with Benton has been tumultuous, said Wilson would be a “terrific addition” to the Senate caucus.
Southwest Washington lawmakers Reps. Brandon Vick, R-Felida, and Liz Pike, R-Camas, also offered encouraging words after hearing Wilson’s announcement.
During her first legislative session, Wilson introduced a measure to prohibit Oregonians who sit on the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council from being voting members. Two of the board’s 14 members are from Oregon. The measure didn’t pass.
Wilson also spearheaded an effort to allow members of the Washington National Guard to carry firearms.
Wilson wrote in a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee that “gun-free zones — our own military bases — are clearly the target of evil forces intent on killing and maiming the very individuals who risk their lives for the protection and safety of everyone else.” The effort came after a gunman killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor at a military recruiting station in Tennessee.
She recently introduced a measure that would dedicate the sales tax from the purchase of feminine hygiene products to an account to help victims of domestic violence.
Benton, who has served in the state Legislature for more than two decades, announced on Saturday he would step down at the end of his term on Dec. 31.
Democrat Tim Probst, who lost to Benton in 2012 by a mere 76 votes, also is vying for Benton’s 17th Legislative District seat.