The Benton County GOP is moving quickly to line up a replacement for Sen. Jerome Delvin, who soon will step down from the Legislature to focus on his new job as a Benton County commissioner.
The local party already has collected applications from six potential candidates even though Delvin has yet to resign, and precinct officers from the 8th Legislative District will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Richland Public Library to select three nominees.
Vic Parrish, the newly elected Benton County GOP chairman, said those three names will be given to the county commissioners to select Delvin's replacement -- possibly on the same day Delvin formally resigns.
The six applicants are Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, the senior 8th District House representative; Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, the junior 8th District representative; Tony Benegas, a West Richland city councilman, state committee man for the Benton County GOP, and first vice chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly; Sharon Brown, Kennewick's mayor pro tem and a local attorney; Patrick McBurney, a local attorney and former Benton County GOP chairman; and Robert Miles.
Parrish said he doesn't know Miles and hadn't read the applications Tuesday, and he couldn't tell the Herald anything about Miles' background.
Delvin was elected in November to replace Leo Bowman on the Benton County Commission. Bowman chose not to run for another term.
Delvin was sworn in as a commissioner in late December, but planned to hold onto his Senate seat for the first few weeks of the legislative session to introduce a few bills of local interest and work on securing money for a new building for Delta High School, the Tri-Cities' science and math-focused public high school.
The legislative session started Monday and is scheduled to end in late April.
Delvin told the Herald in November that he also wanted to give his legislative assistant, who has worked for him for 16 years, time to find a new job.
The process for filling a legislative vacancy according to the state constitution is for the local party committee to take applications from potential candidates, and then for the party precinct officers in the legislative district to narrow the field to three names.
County commissioners in the legislative district then appoint one of the three. The person appointed then has to run in the next election. In this case, that would be later this year.
The 8th District includes Richland, West Richland and most of Kennewick, all in Benton County.
At Thursday's meeting, the six candidates and anyone else nominated during the meeting will have a chance to give a short speech and answer questions from the 8th District Republican precinct officers.
Only precinct officers will be allowed to vote on potential nominees. Credentialing for precinct officers will start at 6:30 p.m.
But anyone is welcome to come and observe, Parrish said.