Longtime Republican state Sen. Don Benton’s announcement that he will step down at the end of his current term creates an opportunity for other Republican candidates.
At least one well-known name is already being mentioned in political circles: state Rep. Lynda Wilson.
Wilson confirmed she is “weighing the options.”
The Vancouver resident is an ardent conservative and carved out a reputation as a vocal gun-rights advocate. After raising her daughters, she joined her husband to run DeWils Industries, a kitchen cabinet manufacturing company.
Wilson served as chairwoman of the Clark County GOP as the party shifted further right philosophically and is serving her first term as a state representative.
State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, said she’s been impressed with Wilson’s “work ethic and calm, reasoned approach to problem-solving.”
“She is well-respected in Olympia, and I welcome the opportunity to serve with her in Olympia if she chooses to serve in the Senate,” Rivers said.
Democrat Tim Probst, who lost to Benton in 2012 by a mere 76 votes, has announced he’ll run for Benton’s 17th Legislative District seat and is campaigning on a platform of bolstering the middle class.
After Benton’s announcement Saturday, Probst, a former state representative, sent a press release wishing the Vancouver senator a happy retirement.
“Senator Benton’s retirement announcement is only the beginning — this campaign is about much more than that. It’s about stopping this partisan divisiveness and uniting as one people, one Clark County and one America,” Probst said in a statement.
Benton has served for 22 years in the Washington Legislature. He said he would step down at the end of his term on Dec. 31.
Benton also is director of Clark County’s Environmental Services Department. Benton cited a change in county policy when explaining his decision not to seek re-election. Acting County Manager Mark McCauley sent Benton a letter late last month alerting Benton that he would need to be at work during the county’s regular business hours if he wanted to be paid for county work, even while the Legislature is in session.