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House Republicans Name New Leaders – Kristiansen Moves Into Top Spot, and Warnick is Caucus Chair

Vacancy Created as Longtime Minority Leader Richard DeBolt Steps Down for Health Reasons

New House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, right, confers with fellow Republican Joe Schmick of Colfax.

New House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, right, confers with fellow Republican Joe Schmick of Colfax.

OLYMPIA, April 28.—Washington House Republicans have named Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, as minority leader, completing a transition that began April 17 when longtime party leader Richard DeBolt resigned from the position for health reasons.

Kristiansen has served as caucus chair for the last seven years. He will be replaced in that position by Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, a new member of the House Republican leadership team. One other change in the team roster: Rep. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, will be the new assistant floor leader, replacing replace Liz Pike, R-Camas, who chose not to run again.

Kristiansen’s election presented little surprise. Members of the House Republican Caucus said consensus has been building for Kristiansen for the last week. Kristiansen, 50, was first elected to the House from the 39th Legislative District in 2002, and has overseen the closed-door meetings of the House Republican caucus since the 2007 session. Krtistiansen and his wife Janis are small-business owners who have lived in Snohomish County 25 years.

“I have a little different style than Richard,” Kristiansen said. “I tend to be one who utilizes people based on what their skill sets are, and I love the facilitator role and the delegating role. And then, at the end of the day, when somebody has got to make the tough decision, I will make sure I am educated as best I can and make that decision and move on.

“I am a business guy. My goal has always been to hire somebody better than me whenever the task is at hand, because that is what is needed if I am going to be successful. And so I am looking forward to the challenge – I’ve already been in the thick of it since Richard has been sick; I’ve been sitting in on the meetings with the governor and the five-corners meetings [involving leaders of the legislature’s four caucuses and the governor] and things have been going really, really well.”

Rest of Line-Up Remains Same

State Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, takes Kristiansen's position as caucus chair.

State Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, takes Kristiansen’s position as caucus chair.

There were no other changes in the Republican line-up. State Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, who took over as acting leader after DeBolt stepped down April 17, chose not to run for minority leader and will remain in place as deputy leader of the caucus. Others are Shelly Short, R-Addy, vice caucus chair; J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, floor leader; Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, assistant floor leader; Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, whip; Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, assistant whip; Drew MacEwen, R-Union, assistant whip; Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe, assistant whip.

DeBolt remains in the state House, but he will serve as a rank-and-file member. Recently returned to the state House after being gone for the better part of two weeks, DeBolt says he is playing things by ear and is planning at the very least to serve out his term. “We have great continuity in leadership and I don’t think we will miss a beat,” he said. “I will be there to help in any way possible.”