As we noted earlier today, state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle), the newly elected Democratic leader, sent a letter to the Republican caucus trying to get a conversation going about the senate governance.
Basically, with a pair of dissident Democrats in Murray's caucus—Sens. Tim Sheldon (D-35, Potlach) and Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue)—he's wary that the Republicans might try to force a power sharing agreement and usurp his leadership role.
Republican leader Sen. Mike Hewitt (R-16, Walla Walla) wrote back today. It's a friendly letter. And it matches Murray's cordial tone of bipartisan cooperation. But rather than calling Murray the "Senate Majority Leader," Hewitt calls him, notably, the leader of the Democratic caucus.
The Democrats, at least when they voted for Murray last week, identified him as the "Senate Majority Leader."
"The Republicans would not be united behind Rodney Tom." —Lisa Brown
(Footnote, by the way: Hewitt is stepping down as the Republican leader and the GOP caucus has yet to name its leadership team.)
Here's another footnote. This one from outgoing Senate Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane). She points out that while the Republicans may have Tom, who's supposedly heading up the insurrection, in their corner—it's not clear that Tom has the Republicans in his corner.
Speaking specifically about rumors that Tom would become the senate leader and generally about a mass GOP coup, Brown told PubliCola today: "My instincts tell me that the Republicans would not be united behind Rodney Tom. In order for something to happen, you have to have every Republican vote plus Tim Sheldon plus Rodney Tom. Like reorganizing the committee and chair structure. I don’t see that. You just have to reach a level of unity to do that, and I don’t know that they have that. There may be some specific things that they can pull together around, but I don’t see a big, full-scale reorganization of the Senate under Republicans and Rodney Tom."