OLYMPIA -- Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt is back in the Senate wings today, less than a week after having surgery to remove a tumor from his chest.
The procedure to remove a tumor from his thymus, a small organ in the chest, was similar to open-heart surgery in that surgeons had to open his rip cage then tie it back together.
All things considered, the Walla Walla Republican is looking pretty good. A little pale and somewhat thinner, to be sure, but still. His wife Cory is nearby, with a pillow, just in case he has to sneeze or cough. Either one is terribly painful, he said.
He's available for votes, should any be taken.
Last week, during debates over when to schedule budgets and reform bills, Senate Republicans were wary of any move to push legislation to the floor, saying the Democrats could take advantage of Hewitt's absence and generate a 24-24 split over contentious issues that would be settled by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, a Democrat. But Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown of Spokane had said if Republicans got to a point where they needed a 25th vote, she'd cast it for Hewitt.
Hewitt said he'd heard about the offer, but he wasn't going to let that happen.
Now the Senate faces another numeric challenge. Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, is absent. Because he's one of three Democrats who gave Senate Republicans the 25-24 edge on the budget, a budget vote could again stack up as 24-24.