State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D‑34th District: West Seattle, Vashon Island) has been chosen as the new Majority Leader of the Washington State House of Representatives, the House Democratic caucus announced today.
Laurie Jinkins (D‑27th District: Tacoma) remains Speaker, Monica Stonier (D‑49th District: Vancouver) remains Majority Floor Leader, and Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self (D‑21st District: Snohomish County) remains the Majority Caucus Chair.
Alex Ramel (D‑40th District) is taking over for Marcus Riccelli (D‑3rd District) as Majority Whip. Tina Orwall (D‑33rd District) and Dan Bronoske (D‑28th District) remain Speaker Pro Tempore and Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore, respectively.
“The people of Washington have again chosen Democrats to lead in our state Legislature, and our caucus is ready to get to work on their behalf,” Speaker Jinkins (who succeeded Frank Chopp in 2019) said in a statement.
“I want to thank my colleagues for their continued trust and confidence in me. More than ever, our caucus is reflective of the many diverse communities that make up this great state, and that ultimately makes the work we do better.”
Fitzgibbon is the highest profile new addition to the caucus’ leadership team. He replaces Pat Sullivan (D‑47th District: South King County) who retired from the House this year. First elected in 2004, Sullivan had been Majority Leader since 2010, working alongside former Speaker Chopp for about ten years.
Fitzgibbon joined the Washington State House in 2010. Prior to that, he had been a legislative assistant in the House and a legislative intern for the King County Council. He has a B.A. in history and political science from Principia College.
He is known for his chairmanship of the House’s Environment & Energy Committee and for heading the House Democratic Campaign Committee, or HDCC, the campaign arm of the House Democratic caucus.
The HDCC is one of many sponsors of NPI’s work.
As Speaker Jinkins mentioned in her comments, the House Democratic caucus had a very good midterm election. The party successfully defended its seats in key battleground districts like the 42nd, the 10th, the 44th, and the 47th, with Republicans failing to knock out Democratic incumbents. If Clyde Shavers’ current lead holds, the party will add one seat to its majority overall.
Fitzgibbon hails from a safe district in King County, the 34th, that encompasses Vashon Island and West Seattle as well as communities to the south, like Burien. He has often been opposed by Republican challenger Andrew Pilloud. Fitzgibbon has typically won his state legislative elections with 80% of the vote or more.
Fitzgibbon’s predecessor in the House, Sharon Nelson, made the jump to the Senate after just three years. Nelson served as Democratic Leader in the Senate from 2013–2018, becoming Majority Leader after Manka Dhingra’s special election victory five years ago. She retired from the Legislature after the 2018 session.
Fitzgibbon, thirty-six, has been a young Democrat for nearly all of his political career. Due to having joined the House in his twenties, he is one of the more senior members of the body despite being younger than forty.
NPI congratulates Representative Fitzgibbon on his new role. We look forward to working with him and the leadership of the House to pass laws that improve Washingtonians’ quality of life and make our economy more inclusive.