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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

House Democrats select Laurie Jinkins to be next Speaker of the Washington State House

This afternoon, the Democratic caucus of the Washington State House of Representatives announced that its members have chosen State Representative Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma to be the next Speaker of the Washington State House of Representatives, succeeding Frank Chopp (D-43rd District: Seattle).

Laurie Jinkins with Frank Chopp

Laurie Jinkins shares a laugh with Frank Chopp after being introduced as the Speaker-designate (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

Jinkins will formally assume office in January when the Legislature reconvenes for its short session and she is elected Speaker by the House’s Democratic majority. Until then, she will be the Speaker-designate.

“I first ran for public office because I wanted to make sure all families have the same opportunities for success,” said Jinkins in a statement.

“Washington continues to rank among the top states to live, work, and do business in large part due to the forward-thinking policies adopted by the Legislature over the last twenty years. We made sure all kids have access to health care regardless of family income. We have some of the best colleges and universities in the nation. And we support families by embracing marriage equality, paid family leave, equal pay, and many other polices.”

“I want every family to have the same opportunities my family has had, and that vision will be the guiding force during my service as Speaker.”

“I thank my colleagues for their confidence. This will be the most challenging job I’ll ever have but I am humbled and buoyed by the support of members of this caucus. For twenty years, we’ve worked together to improve quality of life on behalf of the people of Washington and House Democrats are committed to continuing that work for communities and families all across the state.”

“Congratulations to Speaker-elect Jinkins on her well-deserved and historic election to serve as the new House speaker,” said Governor Jay Inslee.

“I’ve appreciated Laurie’s ongoing partnership in behavioral health and health care, her passionate work on behalf of hard-working families and children, and her commitment to advancing civil rights for all Washingtonians.

“Laurie will be instrumental in shaping the next chapters of Washington’s history. I look forward to working with her as we continue to grow our economy and help every Washingtonian be part of our success.”

“As an accomplished legislator and the first woman to hold the position, she will bring a vital perspective to leadership in the Washington State Legislature,” said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, Jinkins’ counterpart across the rotunda.

“I’ve enjoyed a productive working relationship with Laurie since we joined the House together in 2011. She has a long record of fighting for legislation that puts our state on the path of prosperity by creating opportunity for everybody.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the House leadership team to put people first and make Washington the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

All fifty-seven members of the House Democratic caucus participated in the voting for the new Speaker at a meeting in SeaTac. Under the caucus rules, the winning candidate had to have the support of an absolute majority of the caucus — twenty-nine votes. A total of four women candidates sought the position: State Representatives Gael Tarleton of Seattle (an NPI boardmember), Monica Jurado Stonier of Vancouver, June Robinson of Snohomish County, and Jinkins.

Jinkins has represented the 27th Legislative District (in Pierce County) for many years. Prior to winning this election, she chaired the Judiciary Committee in the House, and was pivotal in advancing legislation to finally abolish the death penalty — a cause that our team has collaborated with her on.

A year ago, Representative Jinkins spoke at our press conference with Attorney General Bob Ferguson to unveil our finding that 69% of Washingtonians support life in prison alternatives to the death penalty. Her comments were featured as part of the evening report that KIRO7 aired on the press conference.

Two years ago, Representative Jinkins joined our team in Atlanta to participate in a panel that I organized to discuss state legislatures and legislative contests. State Representative Renitta Shannon and State Senator Nan Orrock, both of Georgia, joined us for that discussion, which was a highlight of Netroots Nation 2017.

Laurie is a committed champion for countless progressive causes who brings a strong work ethic to the table. She is well spoken, and well organized. Our team is confident she will be a strong and capable Speaker for Washington State.

We extend our congratulations to Laurie and her family. We look forward to working together as the 2020 legislative session approaches.

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