In January, Brown will trade her role as Senate majority leader for the job of chancellor of the
WSU President Elson Floyd informed some of Eastern Washington’s top political leaders Thursday afternoon that Brown, 56, was his choice to run the Riverpoint campus and its fledgling medical school – a school that she helped midwife by pushing key appropriations through the Legislature for projects like the Biomedical and
“It’s going to be as challenging as being the leader of the Senate Democrats,” she said, although possibly with fewer cats to herd.
She’ll replace Brian Pitcher, who has served as WSU-Spokane chancellor since 2005. Pitcher, 63, will remain at WSU-Spokane in a “leadership role” and advise the university on its other urban campuses in the Tri-Cities and
Brown’s next job has been a subject of great speculation around the Capitol . . .
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. . . ever since she announced in July she would not run for re-election to the Senate seat she’s held since 1997 in central
“I thought I might migrate to the West Side and get involved in policy, perhaps land at Dan Evans,” she said, referring to the
Taking the reins of the WSU-Spokane campus was something she discussed with Floyd over the last several months, and they concluded “we share the same vision to take this to the next level.” That includes a continued increase in the number of slots for programs, including the pilot
But turf wars over degree programs among the state’s public universities made that impossible. Later, the cooperation between the public four-year colleges, the community colleges and
On Thursday, as legislators were in
“Is this real or a reproduction?” Riccelli asked, holding up a bright orange bumper sticker that said “Maggie!” Real, Brown said, who carefully packed her collection of vintage campaign buttons and stickers in a box. It was for longtime U.S. Sen. Warren G. Magnuson, whose last campaign was in 1980.
In an earlier interview, Brown said she was ready to get on with a new chapter of her life but would miss being part of the action in the Legislature.
“I love being part of developing the strategy to make something happen – or sometimes to keep things from happening,” she said. “Every year there’s something I learn. It’s really like going to grad school.”
In her first year, she worked hard to move a bill through the Legislature, only to have it vetoed by Gov. Mike Lowry. “I learned you don’t take the governor for granted.”
Last year she relearned something about passing a budget, but it wasn’t that parliamentary surprises can lurk around every corner, like when three Democrats joined with Senate Republicans to stop the Democrats budget bill. Leadership knew that was coming, although they hoped it could be staved off, she said.
“I guess I kind of forgot the kind of collaboration you can get when it’s not a campaign year, like 2011, you can’t get in a campaign year, which 2012 was,” she said.
Democrats and Republicans generally agree on about 95 percent of any budget, she added. It’s the last 5 percent that generates all the debates and conflict.
A year ago Brown talked about running for lieutenant governor, but decided against it when incumbent Democrat Brad Owen made clear he’d seek re-election. She might run for political office in the future but “I don’t have a game plan related to that right now.”