Vancouver state Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, has replaced a controversial lawmaker holding a legislative leadership position.
Harris was elected by his legislative colleagues as Minority Caucus chair at the Washington State House Republicans’ reorganizational meeting Sunday. In the position, Harris will preside over caucus meetings where bills, votes and other legislative matters are discussed by House Republicans.
Harris, who recently won a fifth term, succeeds state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, as caucus chair. A controversial lawmaker whose extreme views have caught national headlines, Shea most recently came under scrutiny for distributing the “Biblical Basis for War.” The four-page document calls for adherence to biblical law and punishment, including death, for those who resist.
Harris said that he had a couple of members of his caucus approach him to run for the chair position, which he said Shea also ran for.
Harris previously served as minority whip and more recently as the ranking member on the House Education Committee. During the 2017 session, Harris helped negotiate a landmark legislative package in response to the McCleary court mandate that the state fully fund basic education. With the court having determined that the mandate has been met, Harris said he was ready to get back into leadership.
“This position deals more with orchestrating caucus members and coming to a consensus on issues,” said Harris. “Hopefully, we’ll come together on a variety of issues.”
Harris also said that he wanted to reach across the aisle and also come to a consensus with Democrats.
According to a press release, Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, was re-elected as House minority leader and Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, as deputy leader. Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, will serve as caucus vice chair. Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, will serve as floor leader. Representatives Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, and Drew MacEwen, R-Union, will serve as assistant floor leaders. Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, will serve as whip.
Although three legislative races appear headed for recounts, the Democrats expanded their majorities in Olympia. If the results don’t change, Democrats will hold a majority of 28-21 in the Senate and 57-41 in the House.
The 2019 legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 14 and is expected to run 105 days.