State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma (center), shares a laugh with Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek (right), and Rep. Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, following a caucus meeting and vote by Democrats choosing Jinkins as Washington state’s speaker of the House, the first woman in that role, Wednesday in SeaTac. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma (center), shares a laugh with Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek (right), and Rep. Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, following a caucus meeting and vote by Democrats choosing Jinkins as Washington state’s speaker of the House, the first woman in that role, Wednesday in SeaTac. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Dems choose Jinkins of Tacoma to be next state House speaker

Rep. June Robinson of Everett was among three other women who were running to replace Frank Chopp.

By Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

SEATAC — Democrats on Wednesday elected the first female speaker of the House in Washington.

With the selection of state Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, the state becomes the eighth to have a woman in the top spot in the House and is now the second state to have a gay speaker of the House, joining Oregon. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, seven other states have female speakers of the House: Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont.

“I’m really proud to be the first woman, the first out lesbian serving in this position,” Jenkins said at a news conference after the vote. “I believe very, very strongly that the diversity of our caucus really more and more is representing the diversity of our state and helps us make better decisions for the people of this state. I’m proud to be a part of carrying that forward.”

Jinkins, 54, was chosen after a caucus meeting and vote at a hotel conference room in SeaTac. She was one of four women representatives seek the top spot after Frank Chopp, the state’s longest-serving speaker and the second longest serving speaker in the nation, announced he was stepping down from his leadership position but would remain in the Legislature.

Chopp, 66, became co-speaker of the House in 1999, sharing the gavel with Republican Clyde Ballard of East Wenatchee. Democrats won a special election in 2001, and Chopp was installed as speaker in 2002.

“This would be the first time in Washington state history that the House Democrats elected a speaker who is not a white male,” said Rep. Eric Pettigrew of Seattle to cheers and applause. “We are very, very proud of that.”

Jinkins was first elected in 2010 to represent the 27th legislative district. She’s chairwoman of the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee and sits on the House Appropriations and Health Care and Wellness Committees. This year she was the main sponsor on a measure creating the nation’s first program to help offset the costs of long-term care.

Outside of the Legislature, she serves as a director at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Democratic Rep. John Lovick has been serving as the state’s first African-American acting speaker since May, and will remain in that role until the speaker-designate is approved by the full House at the start of the 2020 legislative session in January.

Democrats hold a 57-41 majority in the House, and women — with 31 seats — hold a majority within the caucus.

Jinkins thanked the three other women who were also on Wednesday’s ballot: June Robinson, of Everett, Gael Tarleton, of Seattle and Monica Stonier, of Vancouver.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

Bellevue College names former governor as interim president

Gary Locke is expected to guide the school out of turmoil caused by previous leadership.

Most Canadians hope U.S. border closure lasts through summer

Both countries first announced the mutual closing to all non-essential traffic on March 18.

Please stop killing bumble bees: They’re not ‘murder hornets’

Beekeepers say residents are mistaking bees and wasps for Asian giant hornets.

Judge considering challenge to Inslee emergency virus orders

A group of people in Chelan County challenged why the governors’ orders were still in effect.

Watch Gov. Jay Inslee’s Friday news conference here

He is to talk about his stay-home order, which is set to expire on Sunday.

Washington recovers $300M in fraudulent unemployment claims

The precise amount that was paid in fraudulent claims has not yet been revealed.

Bellingham doctor sues hospital for wrongful termination

He had criticized PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center for lack of COVID-19 protections.

Washington officials report drop in childhood vaccinations

Officials are concerned children will not be properly protected against measles and whooping cough.

Watch Gov. Jay Inslee’s Thursday news conference here

He is to talk about the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most Read