Politics & Government

Tacoma’s state Rep. Laurie Jinkins says she might run for speaker of the House

Washington state Rep. Laurie Jinkins is a Tacoma Democrat first elected in 2010.
Washington state Rep. Laurie Jinkins is a Tacoma Democrat first elected in 2010. Photo courtesy Washington Legislature

State Rep. Laurie Jinkins said Wednesday she is exploring a run for speaker of the House of Representatives.

House Democrats announced Wednesday they will meet July 31 to elect a successor to Frank Chopp, the Seattle Democrat who is the longest-serving speaker in state history. Chopp plans to resign the speakership a few days after the legislative session ends.

If Jinkins enters the race, she will join three other candidates who would become the state’s first female speaker. The other candidates are Rep. June Robinson, the Everett Democrat who is first vice chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee; Rep. Monica Stonier, the Vancouver Democrat who is Majority Floor Leader; and Rep. Gael Tarleton, the Seattle Democrat who is chairwoman of the House Finance Committee.

Jinkins is chairwoman of the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee. She represents the 27th Legislative District in Pierce County, which includes much of Tacoma as well as Ruston and Fife Heights. She was elected to the seat in 2010.

When Chopp steps down, Speaker pro tem John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, will take over the speaker’s duties. At the July 31 caucus meeting, members will select a speaker-designate. House Democrats said that person would become speaker officially after all House members participate in an election at the start of the 2020 legislative session in January.

Democrats control the chamber by a 57-41 margin over Republicans.

“The last change in speakers was 20 years ago,” state Rep. Eric Pettigrew, the Seattle Democrat who is chairman of the Democratic caucus, said in a written statement. “Only four members besides the speaker were here during that time, so it’s important we have a clear, coordinated transition plan. We’re all on the same page and ready to move forward as a united caucus.”

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