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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

WALeg Day 1: Roach elected Senate president pro tem

OLYMPIA -- In early maneuvering between majority Republicans and minority Democrats, Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, was named Senate pro tem.

In doing so, they kept Republicans from electing Sen. Tim Sheldon, a Democrat, to the job of presiding over the chamber when Lt. Gov. Brad Owen is absent.

Confused? A bit of back story:

Sheldon is one of two Democrats who joined with Republicans when they were in a minority in the last two sessions, giving them a working majority in the "Majority Coalition Caucus." In return for joining that caucus, Sheldon received the job of pro tem.

Now that Republicans have a clear majority this year, they theoretically have the votes to pass anything that needs a simple majority. But after Sheldon was nominated by Republicans, Democrats nominated Roach, who has a reputation as a maverick in her caucus. Republicans countered by nominating another Democrat, Karen Fraser, to the post, but when the vote was called, none of the Ds voted for Fraser, and Roach picked up two R votes, hers and Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver, a frequent ally of Roach.

Final vote: Roach 25, Sheldon 24.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.