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Meet the House majority leader candidates

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Nov. 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
November 12, 2010 12:45 pm

There’s a long list of House Democrats who want to replace retiring Majority Leader Lynn Kessler as the chamber’s second-in-command.

Rep. Pat Sullivan seems to have built up some support during months as a candidate for the post. He has experience poring over the budget as vice-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. The former mayor of Covington is entering his fourth term in the House.

Rep. Zack Hudgins of Tukwila is entering his fifth term and has been Democrats’ floor leader for four years, with authority over the flow of legislation.

Rep. Jeff Morris of Anacortes, a longtime lawmaker elected to the House in 1996, has played a visible role as speaker pro tempore, presiding over House sessions.

Rep. Larry Springer has been a liaison between House Democrats and interest groups from union to labor. He is the former mayor of Kirkland and is entering his fourth term.

Candidates said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, the chairman of the capital budget committee is also running, but I haven’t been able to reach him. I wrote before about Rep. Larry Seaquist’s bid for the job.

In filling the job, Democrats will pay attention to political ideology. House Speaker Frank Chopp, a liberal from Seattle, delegated power to a rural moderate, Kessler, and some centrists want to keep that balance.

Morris, Springer and Seaquist are aligned with the moderate or conservative “Roadkill Caucus.” Sullivan isn’t, but comes from a swing district (where he is the only Democrat in the district to survive the Nov. 2 election) and is seen as a moderate. Hudgins and Dunshee are more liberal (Hudgins described himself to me as a progressive, adding he might be considered a “moderate progressive.”).

But just about all the candidates talk about the need to bring Democrats together across factions.

Another common refrain: the need to work with minority Republicans.

“I think it’s critical,” Springer said. “The voters clearly want us to do that.”

House Democrats vote Nov. 19.

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