House Democrats are likely to pick a replacement for retiring Majority Leader Lynn Kessler Nov. 19, and it seems like half the House is being mentioned as potential candidates.
Rep. Larry Seaquist, the retired Navy warship commander from Gig Harbor fresh off winning a third term, told me today he’s running.
Like some other swing-district Democrats, Seaquist voted no on key budget and tax bills last year. He says now that House Democrats need to develop a strategic plan to “reset state government.” Just cutting budgets isn’t enough. And he says Democrats need to bring Republicans on board to help with that reorganization of government.
The majority leader’s duties? It will depend on what Speaker Frank Chopp wants to delegate (unless Rep. Mark Miloscia succeeds in his unlikely quest to unseat Chopp) but Kessler was the caucus’s point person in dealing with the press and Republicans, among other responsibilities.
As a moderate Democrat, she also was a counterpoint to the more liberal Chopp. And many of the names floated for majority leader also offer moderate credentials, including Seaquist. He was part of the group of moderates that formed this year calling itself the Roadkill Caucus, but he says he doesn’t like that kind of subdivision into ideological caucuses.
“I would like to make sure that our House Democratic Caucus is a big tent. That everybody, whether they’re left, center, or right in that caucus, feels like their views get heard and respected,” he said.
Seaquist may be a long shot for the job against Democrats who have been lobbying their colleagues for months (more on other candidates in a future post). He acknowledges he hasn’t yet “had a chance to do detailed vote counting,” and he sounds like his goal is as much to be heard on the direction of the caucus as to win.
“There are a number of good, experienced legislators” who would do well in the job, he said. “I’m not uptight about this.”