A Republican state House member is challenging the state's longest-serving Republican senator.
Rep. Cathy Dahlquist of Enumclaw said today she would run against Sen. Pam Roach of Auburn to represent the 31st District of east King and Pierce counties. It's an intraparty contest that promises to be more of a brawl than most fights between Republicans and Democrats, if past elections are any indication.
Dahlquist said she expects the Senate's mostly Republican majority coalition will stay officially neutral in the race.
A Democrat, Jonathon Dunn, is also running in the conservative-leaning district. Under Washington's top-two primary, any combination of the three could advance to the November general election.
Roach was first elected in 1990 and chairs the Senate government operations and elections committee. She has staved off a series of challenges, last time from a fellow Republican in 2010.
Dahlquist was elected that same year, 2010, defeating fellow Republican Shawn Bunney after a stint on the Enumclaw School Board.
Conservative firebrand Roach has been at times an ally and at times at odds with fellow Senate Republicans and fellow members of the majority coalition of 24 Republicans and two breakaway Democrats. Senate Republicans exiled her from their caucus meetings for her treatment of staff, then allowed her to return when they formed the coalition and her vote became crucial.
Dahlquist has had her own disagreements with fellow Republicans. She recently quit as ranking member of the education committee over frustration with her caucus and the teachers union. But she acknowledged her future plans were connected to that decision -- and now it turns out her future plans involved a Senate run.
UPDATE 4/2: Here's Dahlquist's news release:
Dahlquist to run for State Senate Representative Cathy Dahlquist (R-31st District) announced today she will run for the State Senate seat currently held by incumbent Pam Roach.
“We have a lot of challenges,” said Dahlquist. “We can fix them, but only if we leave partisanship at the door.”
Dahlquist said both Republicans and Democrats should work together for the good of the people they represent.
“We can have the best schools, a clean environment, and quality health care for citizens,” said Dahlquist. “But only if we all work together.”
Dahlquist has been a leader on education funding and said she will continue her work in the Senate.
“Education has been my passion for a long time,” said Dahlquist. “The future of our students is in jeopardy because education funding has been ignored and it has reached dangerous levels.”
Dahlquist said addressing the recent Supreme Court decision that education funding be increased will be one of her top priorities as a Senator, as well as investing in quality teachers.
“Student learning starts with a great teacher,” said Dahlquist. “But our teachers have not had a COLA in years. We need to make the investment if we want to retain quality teachers. Our kids are worth it.”
Dahlquist spent several years on her local school board, served as the ranking member on the House Education Committee and sponsored legislation to require fully funding education first, before lesser priorities, in the state budget. She was elected to the State House of Representatives in 2010 and again in 2012.
Dahlquist said she will bring representation back to the people of the 31st district.
“I will be the voice for the people of my district that has been missing in the Senate for too long,” said Dahlquist.