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Jerry Cornfield | jcornfield@heraldnet.com
Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 12:37 p.m.

Senate GOP may reshape Hobbs' role in committee shake-up

Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens is getting a lot of attention these days from members of the Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus.

Several GOP senators want to remove the centrist Democrat as chairman of the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee and put newly elected Republican Sen. Jan Angel of Port Orchard in charge.

But after several days of conversations, the caucus appears settled on making Hobbs and Angel co-chairs of the panel. The action will require a vote of the entire Senate which could come as early as Wednesday.

Hobbs said he received a "heads up" about the change and also had heard coalition members "are still thinking about it."

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said late Monday the change is "most likely" going to happen.

Tom said it has nothing to do with Hobbs' performance and everything to do with Angel's election. With her victory, the coalition picked up a seat and now has 26 members of which 24 are Republican and two are Democrats – Tom and Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch.

"A lot of members thought we should take that (chairmanship) entirely," Tom said. "This is a compromise within the caucus."

And her professional experience in the banking and insurance industry made it a perfect fit, he said.

"This lady was custom made for the job," he said.

Hobbs and Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, are the only members of the minority Democratic caucus serving as committee chairmen. (Hatfield heads up the Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee). Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, is a co-chair of the transportation committee.



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