OLYMPIA -- Ritzville Republican Mark Schoesler was elected the Senate majority leader Monday for the upcoming 2015 session.
Officially, Schoesler will head the Majority Coalition Caucus, a group of 25 Republicans and one Democrat who will control the chamber.
Schoesler, 57, a wheat farmer, has been in the Senate since 2007 after serving seven terms in the House. His southwest Washington is heavily Republican. He ran unopposed for re-election in 2012 and House incumbents had no opponents this year or in 2012.
A blunt-speaking but quotable legislator, Schoesler served several sessions as Republican floor leader, essentially the floor general for parliamentary maneuvers,in recent years when the GOP was the minority caucus. During the last two years as Senate Republican leader, working with the Majority Coalition leader, Democrat Rodney Tom of Medina, after Tom and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, joined the 23 Republicans after the 2012 elections to give them the upper hand.
The Republicans picked up one seat in a special election in 2013 and another this year, so they have 25 seats in the 49-member chamber. Tom did not seek re-election this year but Sheldon won easily and is again joining the Republicans for a coalition. Schoesler said the coalition will "put people over politics."
Schoesler's election came during a caucus meeting in Yakima to fill leadership slots. Sheldon was named Senate president pro tem, the person who presides over the chamber when Lt. Gov. Brad Owen isn't present. Linda Evans Parlette, of Wenatchee, was named caucus chairwoman and Joe Fain, of Auburn, floor leader.