NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Monday, November 21st, 2022

Joe Fitzgibbon elected Majority Leader of the Washington State House of Representatives

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.

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