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Washington House Democrats elect 1st woman speaker

By RACHEL LA CORTEAugust 1, 2019
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State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, second left, introduces her wife, Laura Wulf, left, following a caucus meeting and vote by Democrats choosing Jinkins as Washington state's speaker of the House, the first woman in that role, Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in SeaTac, Wash. Jinkins was one of four women representatives seek the top spot after Frank Chopp, the state's longest-serving speaker, announced he was stepping down from his leadership position but would remain in the Legislature. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, second left, introduces her wife, Laura Wulf, left, following a caucus meeting and vote by Democrats choosing Jinkins as Washington state's speaker of the House, the first woman in that role, Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in SeaTac, Wash. Jinkins was one of four women representatives seek the top spot after Frank Chopp, the state's longest-serving speaker, announced he was stepping down from his leadership position but would remain in the Legislature. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — Democrats on Wednesday elected the first female speaker of the House in Washington state.

With the selection of state Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, Washington becomes the eighth state to have a woman in the top spot in the House and is now the second state to have a gay speaker of the House, joining Oregon. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, seven other states have female speakers of the House: Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont.

“I’m really proud to be the first woman, the first out lesbian serving in this position,” Jenkins said at a news conference after the vote. “I believe very, very strongly that the diversity of our caucus really more and more is representing the diversity of our state and helps up make better decisions for the people of this state. I’m proud to be a part of carrying that forward.”

Jinkins was chosen after a caucus meeting and vote at a hotel conference room in SeaTac, Washington. She was one of four women representatives seek the top spot after Frank Chopp, the state’s longest-serving speaker, announced he was stepping down from his leadership position but would remain in the Legislature.

Democratic Rep. John Lovick has been serving as acting speaker since May, and will remain in that role until the speaker-designate is approved by the full House at the start of the 2020 legislative session in January.

Democrats hold a 57-41 majority in the House, and women — with 31 seats — hold a majority within the caucus.

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