Male-only no more: The next House Speaker will be a woman

The Frank Chopp era will end soon. Everett’s Robinson is among a crowd of women who may seek the job.

Frank Chopp’s reign as speaker of the state House of Representatives will end soon.

The Seattle Democrat, the longest serving speaker in state history and one of the most dominant forces in Washington politics since the turn of the century, intends to step down from the leadership post after the 2019 legislative session.

And when he goes, the male-only sign on the door to this seat of power will come down and a woman will be chosen to occupy it.

Bet on it.

In a state accustomed to electing Democratic and Republican women, the House speakership is a plateau of politics yet to be reached by any woman of either party.

Chopp’s exit after two decades is the opportunity to get there. And with women controlling a majority of the 57 seats in the Democratic caucus, one of them is going to do it.

But who it is promises to be an unending drama in the 105-day session, which began Jan. 14.

Will Democrats want someone with a progressive soul and pragmatic approach, kind of like Chopp? Or someone whose progressive ideology drives their political decision-making more than he has shown? How important is one’s temperament and skills at building ties to Republicans and alliances with Senate Democrats?

Right now it’s a wide-open contest. There are no declared candidates, only rumored ones. The decision won’t be made by the Democratic caucus until May.

Possible contenders now include Reps. June Robinson, of Everett, Laurie Jinkins, of Tacoma, Gael Tarleton, of Seattle, Tana Senn, of Mercer Island, Monica Stonier, of Vancouver, Tina Orwall, of Des Moines, and Christine Kilduff, of University Place. There are probably others.

Each will have a role in the coming session to set themselves apart.

Orwall is deputy speaker pro tem and Stonier is majority floor leader, which puts both in caucus leadership and assures each plenty of chances to showcase their style.

Robinson is on the appropriations committee and will be a central figure in the writing of the next two-year state budget, as she was two years ago. It requires getting deals done with those in the other party, the other chamber and in her caucus.

Jinkins will be in the spotlight as the leader of the committee set to tackle civil rights, criminal justice and gun control issues. It’s worth noting she probably earned goodwill in the midterm election with a political committee she formed. It contributed to 15 Democratic House and Senate candidates including House newcomers Jared Mead, of Mill Creek, and Dave Paul, of Oak Harbor.

Tarleton’s acumen will be tested as chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, the panel through which Democrats will shepherd any tax-raising ideas.

Senn will guide the Human Services and Early Learning Committee, which wrestles with policies related to child welfare, children’s mental health and substance abuse. And Kilduff will serve on committees led by Senn and Jinkins, giving her influence in shaping what policies emerge from those panels.

Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, is one woman in the caucus not seeking the gig. She wants lots of choices.

“My hope is we have some competition because I think that reflects that we have a deep bench,” she said. “I would hate to see us presented with only one option.”

That’s been the case for awhile. It won’t be this year.

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

More in Opinion

Falcone is the smart choice | Letter

In the race for Kirkland City Council Pos. 6, Amy Falcone is… Continue reading

Falcone is the right choice | Letter

We are writing to recommend Amy Falcone for Kirkland City Council. As… Continue reading

Professionals in a second language | Windows and Mirrors

What is it like to pursue a career in a language that is not your first?

Diverse programs serve diverse communities

Waste Management’s outreach programs make waste reduction and recycling accessible to everyone.

Breaking barriers | Windows and Mirrors

Spending time in the outdoors has helped veteran Naomi Layco heal physically and mentally after serving in the U.S. Navy.

KCLS explores the artificial intelligence frontier

The library system will look at the feasibility of an AI application for library users.

Encouraging innovation | Letter

Earlier this year, I had a kidney transplant and it changed my… Continue reading

My Jewish new year’s resolution | Guest editorial

Rosh Hashanah is not just the first day of the new year. It’s a day for Jews to renew their commitment to God.

Give up now! | Letter

I believe that our forefathers didn’t pass the Second Amendment to our… Continue reading

Where have the ospreys gone? | Letter

For years I have watched a pair of ospreys raise chicks in… Continue reading

That entangled meme | Letter

Thanks to Sherman Peters (Reporter, Sept. 6) readers were fed glib history.… Continue reading

How recycling moved me from the Sunshine State to the Evergreen State | Guest editorial

Even with a background in the waste industry, Morgan Romero realized during her internship that there is always more to learn.