United States Representative Denny Heck, who has represented Washington State’s 10th Congressional District since its inception in 2012, announced today that he will be a candidate for the office of Lieutenant Governor, following incumbent Cyrus Habib’s decision to forgo reelection so he can join the Jesuits.
“We are entering an unprecedented era where a civil and fair approach to politics is urgently called for to get things done for Washington families,” Heck said in a statement sent to the Northwest Progressive Institute. “Especially in times like these, we need civility and decency in our political discourse and bold economic leadership to rebuild economic prosperity to every community.”
Heck’s interest in running has been an open secret in political circles around these parts for a couple weeks. Heck began putting together a campaign last month.
Heck announced several months ago that he would not seek reelection to Congress this year. A plethora of candidates have stepped forward to run for his seat, from State Representative Beth Doglio and former State Representative Kristine Reeves to former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Phil Gardner.
In a candid open letter, Heck explained that he decided against pursuing another term in the United States House after the Intelligence Committee completed its impeachment inquiry last autumn. As a member of the committee, Heck had a prominent role in questioning witnesses like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman.
“The countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary,” Heck explained in his letter. “I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many ways good people, could ignore or deny the President’s unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him, and his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth.”
He also expressed a desire to be nearer to his wife Paula, alluding to the toll that flying across the country many times a year takes on a person.
“Being away so much from Paula, my best friend and wife of nearly forty-four years, can be lonely even when I am in a crowded room. At our age, however many ‘good years’ we have left together is not a growing number,” Heck said.
Habib’s recent decision to step down as Lieutenant Governor created the perfect opening for Heck. The job entails presiding over the Washington State Senate when it is session, which is only a few months out of the year, chairing the Senate’s Rules Committee, and filling in for the governor when the state’s chief executive is out of state. The Lieutenant Governor has historically also been a key link between state government and consuls based in the Pacific Northwest.
Those are all duties Heck could take on without having to be far from his family. By serving as Lieutenant Governor, Heck can continue to give back to the state he loves without having to commute to the Other Washington. That, I understand, is rationale for seeking the position, and it makes perfect sense to me.
Heck is the third credible Democrat to declare for the office. State Senators Marko Liias and Steve Hobbs are also running. Incumbent Cyrus Habib has chosen to endorse Liias. However, Heck has the support of many of his Democratic colleagues in Congress, along with former governors like Chris Gregoire.
“What our state and nation need now in positions of responsibility, such as lieutenant governor, is a steady hand, and Denny is as steady as they come,” said Gregoire, who served as the state’s chief executive from 2005 until 2013.
Heck’s list of campaign co-chairs is impressive. It consists of:
- Former Governor Chris Gregoire
- Congressman Derek Kilmer
- Congressman Adam Smith
- Congresswoman Kim Schrier
- Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards
- Former Everett Mayor Ray Stephenson
- Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle
- Renton City Councilmember Ruth Pérez
- Spokane business leader Susan Ashe
- Port of Seattle Commissioner Sam Cho
- Environmental activists Martha Kongsgaard and Stephanie Solien
- Community volunteer and consultant Linda Villegas Bremer
- Community activist George Scarola
- Trial lawyer and civil rights activist Lem Howell
- Nisqually Council Member Willie Frank III
- Sovereign policy advocate Peggen Frank
Heck will officially file next month for the position. The August Top Two election will begin in mid-July and end on August 4th. The two candidates who receive the most votes will advance to the November general election, regardless of party.