Left: Frank Chop (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)                                Right: John Lovick (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Left: Frank Chop (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte) Right: John Lovick (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In state House, one historic era ends and another begins

Chopp is out as speaker. Lovick is in, and already dealing with next steps in two investigations.

OLYMPIA — The Frank Chopp era is over.

Washington’s longest-serving speaker of the state House of Representatives quietly exited on Friday from the seat of power he occupied through two decades.

The Seattle Democrat, who evolved into one of the most dominant political forces in state history during his reign, submitted a short resignation note to the chief clerk, collected a few last belongings and by early afternoon had cleared out of the office.

And the John Lovick era began.

That same Friday afternoon workers scraped Chopp’s name from the door and put up Lovick’s along with the title Acting Speaker.

Lovick, a Mill Creek Democrat and former Snohomish County executive, moved in Monday, making history the moment he sat down.

He is black, the first person of color to be given the duties and responsibilities of House Speaker. Though the gig is temporary — he’ll serve until January when a new speaker is elected by the full House — it’s no less a barrier-breaking accomplishment.

“I am proud to stand on the broad shoulders of a lot of people who served (in the Legislature) before me,” Lovick said.

Before Chopp departed, the two men spent a couple hours going over the levers of power Lovick would control. On Lovick’s first day, he made a point to meet the men and women employees, partisan and non-partisan, who are the gears of the legislative machinery he’ll be steering.

“There’s so much structure in place,” Lovick said. “This is a well-oiled machine that runs exceptionally well.”

Lovick spent part of the first week wrestling with separate reviews of two House members.

One involves Democratic Rep. Jeff Morris of Mount Vernon. A complaint concerning Morris’ managerial manners prompted caucus leaders late last year to launch a fact-finding inquiry and likely contributed to the veteran lawmaker losing a committee chairmanship in the 2019 session.

Jeff Morris

Jeff Morris

That report is finished and some of its recommendations are getting implemented. Yet the report, including its findings and recommendations, hasn’t been released despite requests from reporters.

“I want to look at it, read it myself,” Lovick said. He also said he wanted to talk with House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, and caucus Chairman Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, on Wednesday about the situation. “I want to be sure this is done properly.”

The other involves an investigation of Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane. This is a little more complicated.

Shea is not accused of any wrongdoing in the workplace. The conservative’s political behavior is inciting the probe.

Matt Shea

Matt Shea

The Guardian newspaper has reported that Shea engaged in Internet chats in 2017 with three other men proposing to confront “leftists” with a variety of tactics, including violence, surveillance and intimidation.

Recently, 55 Democratic state lawmakers, including Lovick, called on House Republican leaders to reprimand Shea for what they view as his abhorrent action. A few Democrats wanted to vote for Shea’s expulsion in the session — but Chopp didn’t let that happen.

However, before Chopp left, he did make sure Chief Clerk Bernard Dean got the go-ahead to look into what transpired. Dean said he’s evaluating what kind of private investigator to hire since the concerns center on Shea’s actions outside the legislative workplace. It could be weeks before anyone is selected, he said.

Lovick wants to tread cautiously.

“I frankly don’t think there’s any reason not to afford (Shea) his due process,” said Lovick, a retired state trooper and former Snohomish County sheriff.

It’s only been a couple days, but Lovick is relishing his new role. He’s also aware how big the shoes he’s filling.

“Frank’s a good friend,” he said. “Moving into the office that Frank’s been in for 20 years, it’s very difficult for me.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Everett man dies after being hit by car in Island County

Jacob Weigert was running across State Route 20 toward a bus stop when he was hit Wednesday morning.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood police shoot at man during pursuit

The man is wanted on multiple warrants, including one for attempted murder, according to police. No one was hurt.

The “Village of Hope,” a tiny home community including 17 shelters, is set to open on Mission Hill Road in Tulalip in September. (Tulalip Tribes)
Tulalip Tribes to open tiny home village with 17 shelters

It’s called the Village of Hope. Monthly culture nights will feature classes in Lushootseed and “Tulalip cooking.”

Everett
Man shot at Everett apartment

The man in his 30s was shot Sunday night. No arrests had been made.

Arlington Public Works employees use The Big Sidewalk Sucker to lift a concrete panel from the sidewalk. The device saves the city some money and time to level ground below the concrete. (Arlington Public Works)
This thing sucks and helps repair sidewalks in Arlington

Public works crews can remove heavy concrete panels from sidewalks, so the ground underneath can be restored.

United Way of Snohomish County CEO Craig Chambers at their headquarters on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New CEO expected to reinvigorate United Way of Snohomish County

The nonprofit lost staff and funding during the pandemic. Craig Chambers wants to turn things around.

New LGI Homes on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Sultan, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Red-hot housing market cools, a bit, in Snohomish County

The amount of housing inventory is rising. Demand is slowing. Higher mortgage rates are a cause.

John McKeon stands in front of a mobile headquarters vehicle while discussing the funding needs of Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at the search and rescue headquarters in Snohomish, Washington. McKeon said a priority for the group is to find money for new covered parking for a number of vehicles that do not have a garage to be parked in. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue wants rescuing

They’re asking for nearly $1 million in federal recovery dollars, but funding has been hard to come by.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How to answer Snohomish County’s basic crime questions? ‘Transparent data’

An initiative funded in part by Microsoft could reveal racial disparities, while creating an “apples to apples” database.

Most Read