Who's Leading the 58th Washington Legislature

from The Olympian


House Speaker Frank Chopp
Age: 49

The Seattle Democrat, first elected in 1994, is entering his fifth term representing the 43rd Legislative District, including the Wallingford area where he lives. Chopp has served as House Speaker for a year, and his party now enjoys a 52-46 majority. He also served as co-Speaker during 1999-2001, when power was shared with the Republicans. He was Democratic floor leader when his party was in the minority.

Chopp serves as president of a nonprofit human-services provider, Fremont Public Association; he has been a leader there since 1983. He also has worked as a community organizer and advocate for Seattle initiatives, including one for low-income housing.

Chopp is a 1975 graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle. He is married to Nancy Long, and they have two children, Nate and Ellie.

House Minority Leader Cathy McMorris
Age: 33

The Colville Republican, first appointed in early 1994, is entering her fifth full term representing the 7th Legislative District, including Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens counties.

McMorris was selected as minority leader by her party late last year, replacing longtime House GOP leader Clyde Ballard, who retired. She previously co-chaired the House State Government Committee until her party lost a co-majority in 2001. She also has served on the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee.

McMorris is a graduate of Pensacola Christian College in Florida and is enrolled in an executive MBA program at the University of Washington. She previously worked in Olympia as a legislative assistant for then-Rep. Bob Morton, but later worked for a dozen years on a family-owned fruit orchard in Kettle Falls.

McMorris will give the Republicans' formal response to Gov. Gary Locke's State of the State address.

Senate Majority Leader Jim West
Age: 51

The Spokane Republican, first elected to the Legislature in 1982, is entering his fifth term representing the 6th Legislative District in the Senate; he spent two terms as its representative in the House. His district includes part of the cities of Spokane and Nine Mile Falls, as well as portions of Spokane County and a portion of the city of Airway Heights.

West was chosen as Senate Majority Leader shortly after Republicans gained their 25-24 majority last November. He served as Republican leader in 1999-2000 when his party was in the minority. He previously served as Senate Ways and Means Committee chairman until the GOP lost its majority in late 1998; he also chaired the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee.

West, who served on the Spokane City Council before joining the Legislature, previously was a Spokane County sheriff's deputy, Army paratrooper and camp director for the Boy Scouts of America in Spokane. He is a graduate of Gonzaga University in Spokane.

Senate Minority Leader Lisa Brown
Age: 46

The Spokane Democrat, first elected to the Legislature in 1992, served two terms in the House and is entering her third term representing the 3rd Legislative District, which takes in parts of Spokane including its downtown.

Brown was elected Senate Minority Leader late last year after her party lost control of the chamber. She replaces longtime Democratic Leader Sid Snyder, who retired. Brown previously served as Senate Ways and Means chairwoman.

Before joining the Legislature, Brown was a citizen activist opposed to the U.S. role in Central America, and she taught in Nicaragua. She also was an advocate for low-income housing here.

Brown is an assistant professor in the organizational leadership department at Gonzaga University. She has one son, Lucas.


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