WALLA WALLA — State Sen. Mike Hewitt said today he will not seek re-election as leader of the Senate Republican Caucus.
Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, was re-elected to a fourth term this month. He has been the state Senate Republican leader since December 2005. The Senate Republican Caucus will hold leadership elections Nov. 28.
Hewitt indicated that health issues during the past year played a role in his decision. However, he said he plans to continue serving as the state senator for the 16th Legislative District.
“I am now entering a new season in which I will turn over the leadership reins and focus my energies on the citizens of Southeast Washington,” Hewitt said in a release. “I am thankful for the stalwart leadership team with which I have had the privilege to work.”
Hewitt said he felt this was the right time for him “to step back and encourage a new model of leadership in the state Senate. I want to promote new Senate leadership from the center. Focusing on centrist policy rather than party labels is what will make the people of Washington a winner.”
He also said he was “thrilled by the new generation of leadership in the Senate Republican Caucus.”
“Incoming and existing suburban Sens. Rivers, Dammeier, Hill, Litzow, Baumgartner and Fain give a whole new face to principles of responsible government closer to the people,” he said. “New senators such as Barbara Bailey, Kirk Pearson and John Braun will give strong leadership to more conservative areas of the state.”
Hewitt said that health challenges during the past year “have helped me focus on the important things of live. My wife, Cory, has been my biggest cheerleader as I have taken extra time devoted to public service of the state of Washington. It is with great love and gratitude that I thank her for allowing me to devote the extraordinary amount of time needed to represent all the people of the state.”