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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Schoesler steps down as Senate GOP leader

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, makes a point on the floor of the Senate during the 2020 session.  (Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review)

After eight years of leading Senate Republicans, Mark Schoesler said Monday he’s stepping down.

Not from the Senate, he was quick to add. Just from the role of minority leader, so he has more time to farm and be with his wife, children and grandchildren.

“I came to the conclusion maybe someone else can do this job,” Schoesler said in a phone interview after he notified colleagues . “Maybe I can go all day without worrying about my smart phone.”

Schoesler was elected to the House in 1992 and the Senate in 2004. He was named Republican leader in 2012 when a coalition put Republicans in charge of the Senate. He was majority leader in 2015 then back to minority leader when Democrats regained control in 2016.

Both jobs are time consuming, but majority leader is better, Schoesler said. A minority leader has to spend extra time trying to get his caucus into the majority.

“I really haven’t taken a lot of time off,” he said. As caucus leader he has meetings with staff and obligations of fundraising and campaigning for other candidates that most members don’t have.

Schoesler, who also operates a wheat farm near Ritzville, was easily re-elected to another four-year term last month in the 9th Legislative District, which includes southern Spokane County as well as Adams, Asotin, Garfield, Whitman and parts of Franklin County. His Democratic opponent dropped out of the race after qualifying for the general election in the primary in the solidly Republican district.

He said he’s “absolutely not” thinking of quitting the Legislature and hopes to land a spot on the Ways and Means Committee, which develops the budget for all the programs approved by other committees.

Senate Republicans will elect new leadership later this week.