A few weeks ago, Rep. Larry Haler (8th District, Richland, Benton County) announced he would not seek re-election, and his term will end December 31st.

Now, Tuesday, Rep. Terry Nealy (16th District-Dayton) says he will not run in November either. Nealy retired from his law practice in 2015, now he's stepping down in the Legislature.

Nealy represents the 16th. District, one of the biggest but also rural areas in the state. It covers southern Benton County, including Pasco, and all of Walla Walla and Columbia Counties, of course including the cities of Walla Walla and Dayton.

But more importantly, Nealy's departure will create a 'power vacuum' in the State House. Although the House is Democratically controlled, Nealy is the highest GOP member of the House Finance Committee, the State Economic Revenue Forecast Council and the House Appropriations Committee. They're all very powerful positions.

Nealy, along with Haler and other Republicans, have been able to 'steer' policy and at times blunt attempts at controversial taxes and other legislative efforts by West-side legislators. Nealy, who's father was a state rep from 1983 to 1994, has been in Olympia since 2009.  He was one of a number of East Side legislators who usually cruised easily through the re-election process, handily beating opponents who tried to challenge.

His departure will perhaps create a 'scramble' to find a GOP Representative who can begin to try to fill his shoes. The GOP is also facing a similar situation with the departure of Rep. Haler.

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