KENNEWICK, Wash. -

A Benton-Franklin Superior Court judge could become the first Latino federal judge for the Eastern Washington district.

Salvador Mendoza Jr. of Kennewick was nominated to replace Lonny Suko, a federal judge in Yakima who went on senior status last year.

Sen. Patty Murray is introducing Mendoza at Wednesday's Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. He once worked for her as an intern.

Mendoza graduated from Prosser High School, the University of Washington and the law school at UCLA. His work as a lawyer includes a year as an assistant attorney general and a year as a deputy prosecutor in Franklin County.

The Eastern Washington district covers 20 counties east of the Cascades. It has courthouses in Spokane, Yakima and Richland.