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Capitol shuffle sends AG’s lobbyist Hunter Goodman to top Senate admin job

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on Jan. 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm with No Comments »
January 28, 2013 6:28 pm

Hunter Goodman is moving over from the Attorney General’s Office to serve as secretary of the Senate. The announcement just went out confirming the day’s earlier rumor as Goodman replaces longtime secretary Tom Hoemann. Goodman was deputy chief of staff and served as legislative director for outgoing Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican who ran and lost his bid for governor.

New AG Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, is replacing some staff members, including the appointment today of a new solicitor general.

Goodman obviously knows his way around the Capitol but the powers that be still have to cut a hole in a wall to provide the new public entrance to the actual office space Goodman will occupy in the Legislative Building. The new Senate secretary’s office previously was home to Legislative Ethics Board counsel Mike O’Connell, who has been relocated to a ground floor office, and the entry to Goodman’s space will be through a suite that includes other Secretary of the Senate employees.

I’ll explain more about the moves below. But first, here’s the announcement put out by the new 25-member Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, which includes 23 Republicans and is to be led by Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina:

Majority Coalition Caucus taps Goodman to serve as secretary of the Senate
Deputy Republican leader says confirmation expected after Legislature convenes Monday
OLYMPIA…Hunter Goodman, deputy chief of staff at the state attorney general’s office, will become the new secretary of the Senate, Sen. Don Benton announced today. Goodman’s confirmation is expected Monday as part of the package of decisions the state Senate will make on the opening day of the 2013 legislative session. He will essentially serve as the Senate’s chief administrator, in charge of its non-partisan staff and much of the day-to-day decision-making about Senate operations.
Benton, R-Vancouver, said Goodman has already started the transition process, working with outgoing secretary Tom Hoemann, and will be ready to step into his new role immediately.
“Our coalition leadership team considered several candidates and chose Hunter based on his superb administrative skills,” said Benton, deputy Senate Republican leader, speaking for the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus that will become the Senate’s majority party Monday.
Goodman spent more than a half-dozen years as Attorney General Rob McKenna’s envoy to the Legislature before moving into his current position in mid-2011. Benton said he and Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, who is incoming Senate Majority Leader, offered the post to Goodman on Tuesday, after every member of their bipartisan coalition had endorsed the pick.
“The Majority Coalition Caucus has proposed some unprecedented changes to the way the Senate makes decisions, in support of our commitment to a style of governing that is more bipartisan and inclusive and does a better job of representing all parts of the state,” Benton said. “While I hope the new session will get off to a smooth start on Monday, we have to be ready for some unforeseen bumps in the road. Hunter has the background to help us get past those – he knows us and we know him, yet he comes in without any prior allegiance to anyone in the Senate. I see him as being a new face to go with a new way of doing things.”
Benton had kind words for Hoemann, who joined the Senate staff in 1979 and served four terms as Senate secretary starting in 2005, when the Senate Democratic Caucus began its eight-year run as the majority caucus.
“Tom was there when history was made in the Senate – in 2011 when we saw the first truly bipartisan Senate budget, and last year for the formation of the initial bipartisan coalition that really helped set the stage for where the Senate is going now. He knows as well as anyone how a change in the majority brings about other changes, and he will leave with our gratitude for his decades of service to the Senate and the people of our state,” said Benton.
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The shake-up in offices was reported here earlier this week.

In a nutshell, Democrats are moving out of the north-side offices that included one very spacious office formerly used by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and more recently by the former Senate Democratic majority leader. Sen. Mark Schoesler, the Republican caucus leader, is moving into the office formerly used by the Democrats’ floor leader, while Republican caucus chair, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, moves into the secretary of Senate’s suite.

That makes three executive leadership offices for the new majority coalition, more than the majority has had in recent years that I’ve seen. That alliance is made up of 23 Republicans and two Democrats, including Tom and Democratic Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch. Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray is moving into Parlette’s old office, while Democratic caucus chair Karen Fraser of Thurston County is moving into the southeast corner office used by the former Republican leader.

As of this afternoon, the wings of the Senate were a mess – with pieces of furniture and boxes of office supplies stacked. Staffers for Fraser and Murray were still moving pieces of furniture in, and in Parlette’s office lobby the room still smelled of paint.

But by Monday, things are expected to be put in order in time for the Democrats and Republicans to convene at noon and change the rules – whereby the coalition majority can be constituted and Tom can assume powers as Senate majority leader.

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