Politics & Government

Olympia state Sen. Karen Fraser enters 2016 race for lieutenant governor

State Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, speaks on the Senate floor on Feb. 26, 2013.
State Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, speaks on the Senate floor on Feb. 26, 2013. Staff file, 2013

UPDATE: Following Sen. Karen Fraser’s announcement Tuesday that she will run for lieutenant governor, state Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, announced Tuesday night that he would seek her seat in the state Senate.

Then, Wednesday morning, Olympia City Councilman Nathaniel Jones issued a press release saying he is exploring whether to run for Hunt’s seat, or the other open state House seat in the 22nd Legislative District. That seat, now held by state Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, will be vacated next year because Reykdal is running to become the state superintendent of public instruction. Jones said he has yet to make a decision whether he will seek either position.

ORIGINAL POST:

State Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, announced Tuesday that she will run for lieutenant governor next year.

That means the longtime state senator won’t be seeking re-election to her Senate seat in the 22nd Legislative District, which she has held for more than two decades.

Fraser said Tuesday that her long experience in the Senate makes her an ideal candidate for lieutenant governor, whose duties include presiding over the chamber. Fraser currently serves as the chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“I feel very well qualified to be the presiding officer of the Senate because of how long I’ve been there,” Fraser said Tuesday.

Fraser is the second Senate Democrat to formally enter the lieutenant governor’s race, after Sen. Cyrus Habib of Kirkland announced his candidacy last month. Republican candidate Javier Figueroa, a University Place city councilman, is also running for the position.

A third Senate Democrat, Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens, also has expressed interest in the job should Lt. Gov. Brad Owen not seek re-election.

Owen said last week that he was still deciding whether or not he would run again. Owen has served as lieutenant governor since 1997.

Other duties of the lieutenant governor include filling in as acting governor when the governor is out-of-state or unavailable.

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