<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Saturday,  June 22 , 2024

Linkedin Pinterest
News / Northwest

Court-ordered redistricting is factor in exits of two GOP state lawmakers

By Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard
Published: April 26, 2024, 9:32pm

Two Republican state lawmakers in Washington are forgoing re-election while a third is moving across town so he can try to keep the legislative seat he’s held since 2007.

Their decisions have one thing in common – redistricting. More precisely, a federal judge’s March decision to approve new boundaries of several legislative districts to enhance the political voice of Latino voters in the Yakima Valley.

Sen. Brad Hawkins of Wenatchee and Rep. Gina Mosbrucker of Goldendale each cited it as a contributing factor in their opting against pursuing another term in the Legislature. Sen. Curtis King of Yakima relocated to run for re-election in the 14th Legislative District.

“I felt like what was being done here to us was not correct and the only way to respond in a positive way was to move and run as an incumbent in the 14th Legislative District which I am,” King said Wednesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik approved a new political map for the 14th Legislative District to remedy federal Voting Rights Act violations that critics said diluted the power of the area’s Latino electorate.

Curing the problem resulted in redrawn boundaries for a total of 13 legislative districts across the state. Five lawmakers, all Republicans, ended up in new districts as a result.

Mosbrucker is one. She announced Wednesday she would not run for a sixth term, saying she wanted to focus on her family, her business as a hotelier and other pursuits.

“My faith sent me to the state Capitol,” Mosbrucker said in a statement. “Now faith is sending me home. It’s time for a new chapter, one I know will be my best yet.”

In an interview, Mosbrucker said her belief in term limits was another factor. The results of the redistricting case crystallized her thinking.

The new map moved the area of Goldendale where she lives into the 17th district while leaving another part of town, literally a stone’s throw away, in the 14th.

‘Serve all citizens’

Hawkins, who represents the 12th district, found his residence in the 7th district after the cartographic changes. In March, he said his family would move to Wenatchee, the city where he grew up that’s still in the 12th, and run for another four-year term again.

Hawkins did move but his plans changed. He pivoted to run for an open seat on the Chelan County Commission, coincidentally the same position his father held from 2000-2008.

Hawkins, a moderate who’s enjoyed success working with Democrats, is in his 12th year in the Legislature. He served two terms in the House and is in his second term in the Senate.

On Wednesday, he said he didn’t contemplate a detour until seeing the final map was “even more drastic.” It created a district that stretched from Wenatchee to Monroe in Snohomish County to North Bend and Snoqualmie in King County.

“It was unjust and disappointing,” he said.

On the positive side, he said, if elected he will spend less time away from his family and “ it will be really cool that every hour that I spend on the board I will be serving the community.”

King faced the toughest decision. A Yakima resident, he’s served as the 14th district senator since 2007. He intended to seek another term, raising roughly $160,000 before the start of the legislative session. He’s now up to $180,300.

The judge’s decision put him in the reconfigured 15th district. Only recently did he move to a new address in Yakima that he said he “believes meets the requirements for my legal residence.”

He said his family didn’t move either.

“I moved. I value being a state senator,” he said. “I’ve tried to serve all citizens because they’re all my constituents.”

Rep. Chris Corry of Yakima and Sen. Nikki Torres of Pasco are the other Republican lawmakers affected by the redrawn maps.

Corry, Mosbrucker’s seatmate, is in the 15th and is planning to run there. Torres, who was elected in the 15th district in 2022,  is now in the 16th district. State law allows her to complete her term, which ends in 2026.

Dems ready to roll

As Republicans cope with fallout from the redistricting decision, Democrats are busy campaigning for each of the three legislative seats in the 14th district.

Morning Briefing Newsletter envelope icon
Get a rundown of the latest local and regional news every Mon-Fri morning.

Maria Beltran of Yakima launched her bid for the Senate seat shortly before Judge Lasnik approved the final maps.

She’s a former board member and president of OneAmerica and did a stint working for the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

As of Wednesday, she reported nearly $50,000 in contributions and endorsements from a dozen Democratic state lawmakers as well as Washington Conservation Action and United Farm Workers Union.

Chelsea Dimas, of Sunnyside, and Raul Martinez, of Yakima, are running for state House seats.

Dimas, who ran unsuccessfully for Sunnyside City Council in 2021, is a member of the Washington State Human Rights Commission. She’s also vice chair of the Yakima County Democrats and a board member with the Central Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, according to her campaign website.

Martinez, of Yakima, ran for the City Council in 2021 but didn’t win. He serves on the Yakima Planning Commission and works as the external affairs manager for the state Department of Natural Resources.

As of Wednesday, no Republican had announced their candidacy for one of the House seats.

Candidates can begin filing for this year’s elections on May 6.

The Washington State Standard is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet that provides original reporting, analysis and commentary on Washington state government and politics. We seek to keep you informed about Washington’s most pressing issues, the decisions elected leaders are making, how they are spending tax dollars and who is influencing public policy. We’re part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.