Sen. Brown won't run for Hastings seat

Herald Staff WritersMarch 17, 2014 

State Sen. Sharon Brown, announced Monday that she will not seek the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings.

Brown, R-Kennewick, told the Herald that while the congressional race would offer a great opportunity, she wants to stay in Olympia longer than the one year that she’s served.

“When I was elected ... I made a commitment to be a strong voice and advocate for the needs of the 8th Legislative District,” Brown said in a phone interview. “I’m making such great strides in Olympia right now, to move away from that I feel it would be remiss to the people of the Tri-Cities and the 8th District.”

Brown said she isn’t endorsing another candidate in the race at this time.

She wants to return to the Legislature in 2015 to help push through some bills she was involved with that were making progress.

One was a pilot program that would have allowed five new manufacturing plants in Washington to receive a tax credit for a portion of their construction costs. The bill was intended to address a statewide lack of incentives for attracting small business, she said.

Another bill that would have helped companies deal with consequences of the 2006 Energy Independence Act also passed the Republican-led Senate but didn’t make it past the Democratic House. It would have allowed incremental hydroelectric power to be classified as renewable energy.

Brown also wants to do more to fill 20,000 vacant jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Washington. She said many of them do not require people to be engineers or have advanced degrees.

“They are good, family-wage jobs,” she said. “How does the Tri-Cities play a meaningful role in that?”

Brown also sponsored a bill to create a legislative task force to study using nuclear power to replace energy generated by fossil fuels. The bipartisan group of eight legislators will hold at least two of its meetings in Richland.

Brown said she was pleased to be unanimously elected the Senate’s vice president pro tem, making her one of three people chosen to preside over the chamber.

“A lot of this stuff happens as a result of building relationships,” she said. “To walk away from that right now would be really difficult.” Benton County commissioners appointed Brown to the Senate in February 2013 after Jerome Delvin was elected to the county commission. Voters then elected her in November to fill the final year of Delvin’s term.

Brown, an attorney for a Hanford subcontractor, announced she was forming an exploratory committee to look at running for Hastings’ seat shortly after the veteran congressman announced he was retiring.

Several candidates have said they plan to file for his 4th Congressional District position. They include Brown’s fellow state senator, Janea Holmquist Newbry of Moses Lake.

Other Republicans who’ve declared for the race include Kennewick attorney George Cicotte, former Department of Agriculture director Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside, Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck, farmer and former NFL player Clint Didier of Eltopia, Ephrata artist and filmmaker Gavin Seim and Kennewick caregiver Jamie Wheeler.

Josh Ramirez, a Pasco resident and control specialist at Hanford, also announced as an independent candidate.

Another 8th District legislator is still considering running. Third-term state Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, has twice ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.

“It is still in my heart and my mind,” Klippert told the Herald. “I have not excluded that as a possibility at this point.”

The filing period is in May, with the primary election Aug. 5. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the Nov. 4 general election.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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