Frank Chopp (left) and John Lovick

Frank Chopp (left) and John Lovick

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.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Back to the wild — a whole new outdoor recreation world | Guest editorial

When enjoying the great outdoors, continue to socially distance and be aware of how else COVID-19 has changed our world.

We are all in this together | Coming of age…again

How can we, as neighbors, help each other?

Earth Month 2020 and COVID-19: Caring for the planet and each other

Here are some ways to minimize your carbon footprint and protect the planet amid the pandemic.

KCLS is stepping up its commitment to patrons

KCLS has expanding its online resources so patrons can continue to learn, build skills, stay entertained and remain mentally and physically active amid the pandemic.

The true meaning of community | Guest editorial

LWTech president Dr. Amy Morrison reflects on how the COVID-19 outbreak has brought the community together.

Deserving respect for being human | Windows and Mirrors

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Asians and Asian Americans have been targeted. Here’s what’s been happening on the Eastside.

Thank you grocery store clerks

Recognizing the sacrifices of our unsung essential workforce.

Now is the time to be kind to each other | Windows and Mirrors

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, it is important for us to be there for others in our communities.

To our elected officials: Be bold, be consistent, be honest, be helpful

By Patrick Grubb, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Governor Jay Inslee has been… Continue reading

Libraries are the place to go according to poll

Library will host short film festival on March 20.

A way to keep us healthy | Letter

A problem has occurred recently that I would like to address. On… Continue reading

Events and new resources blossom for older adults this spring | Coming of age…again

While we may work out, run, walk or bicycle to exercise and stay “fit,” exercising our brain is a bit more complex.