When longtime House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, announced he was stepping down from his position in 2018, it opened the possibility that a representative from Southwest Washington would occupy the post for the first time in decades.
After Chopp’s announcement, state Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, confirmed that she was eyeing the post. However, state Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma was selected as Chopp’s successor by the House Democratic caucus.
“That’s the way the game goes,” said Stonier, who is currently in her second term representing the west Vancouver-based 49th Legislative District.
Stonier praised Jinkins and said she is confident in her leadership. She also described her caucus’ election process as an “impressive display of democracy” that saw several ballots before Jinkins was selected. She didn’t provide a vote total but said it was close.
Although Stonier would have been the first woman and the first person of color to wield the speaker’s gavel, she said it was positive that Jinkins would be the first lesbian to occupy the post.
“I’m quite proud that LGBTQ kids have a leader they can identify with,” she said.
In November of 2018, Stonier was elected majority House floor leader. Previously, she was elected deputy majority whip.
Stonier said her term as floor leader will last for two years. After the next election cycle, House Democrats will hold a reorganization meeting where they will reconsider their leadership structure.
“I’ve had a lot of support and excitement in our community,” Stonier said of her candidacy for speaker. “I hope they know that I will continue to make sure that Southwest Washington is on the map when policy and budgets are passed.”