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Sunday, January 11, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Legislative leaders' changing of the guard

The election season has shuffled the deck in the House and Senate as several prominent politicians resigned or left leadership positions to run for higher office. Here's a rundown on the lawmakers who quit top posts and the people who replaced them:

Senate majority leader

Who's out:

Jim West, R-Spokane, resigned as the Senate majority leader after being elected mayor of Spokane in November. He had served in the Legislature for 20 years.

Who's in:

Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, R-Kirkland, was elected by the Republican caucus to replace West as the majority leader of the Senate. Finkbeiner, 34, is a former Microsoft contractor who represents a part of the high-tech area. He was elected to the House in 1992 and has served in the Senate since 1994.

Brian Murray, R-Spokane, will take over West's Senate seat. Spokane County commissioners appointed Murray, 26, a legislative aide, to the vacancy.

Senate Ways and Means Committee

Who's out:

Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, resigned as chairman of the powerful committee to run for governor. Rossi, 44, is a commercial real-estate investment broker who was serving his second term in the Senate. He was credited with playing a leading role in solving the state's worst-ever budget shortfall last year.

Who's in:

Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, replaces Rossi as committee chairman. He was elected to the Senate in 1995. He's a managing partner of Professional Security Concepts, an investigative and security consulting firm.

Rep. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, was selected by the Metropolitan King County Council to fill Rossi's vacant 5th Legislative District seat in the Senate. Pflug was serving her third term in the House of Representatives.

House minority leader

Who's out:

Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Colville, resigned as House minority leader to run for Congress in Eastern Washington's 5th District. McMorris was appointed leader last year to replace Clyde Ballard, who retired. McMorris will remain in the Legislature.

Who's in:

Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, succeeds McMorris as House minority leader. DeBolt, 38, was first elected to office in 1994. He would be in line to be the next House speaker if the Republicans gained control of the House in the next election.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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