Wilcox steps down from House Republican Leader role

Alexandria Osborne

WNPA News Service

After five years serving as Washington state’s House Republican Leader, Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, announced his decision to step down from his leadership role.

Being the House Republican Leader is a partisan job, and in the past, Wilcox said if his leadership did not result in a more balanced Legislature, it was time for a change. The House of Representatives currently has 58 Democrats and 40 Republicans.

“It’s been weighing on me since the election, and I don’t go back on my word easily,” he said. “The only way that you can have accountability is to have people who are accountable, and I liked this job, but it was more important to do what I said.”

Wilcox said there has been bitterness in the past few years, and the reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic created some division in the Legislature.

“I just hope that the new leadership, not just for my caucus, but elsewhere, is coming from people that can put all that antagonism behind,” he said.

“I hated that, and there were always really tough choices you had to make in deciding what you were going to do, even with the minority, and it divided people so much. We need to figure out how to move past that.”

While Wilcox is stepping down from his leadership position, he still plans to represent the 2nd District.

Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, will take over as House Republican Leader, and Wilcox said he has a lot of respect for his replacement.

Stokesbary said he is honored to have been chosen as the next House Republican Leader and looks forward to working with the caucus.

“As a lifelong Washingtonian, I know the incredible potential of our state, but too many of our challenges have been exacerbated by single-party control,” Stokesbary said.

“I’m proud that House Republicans are fighting for real solutions to the critical issues affecting our state, including public safety, student performance and tax relief.”