Frank Chopp, one of the longest serving members of the Washington State House of Representatives, officially filed for reelection of the 43rd district this week. Rep. Chopp, whose district includes Capitol Hill, Fremont, and Madison Park, has been serving since 1995 and was Speaker of the House for 20 years before stepping down last year.
“We have a more progressive legislature now than we had in the two previous ones, so a big part of my effort will be working on solving the budget dilemma,” Rep. Chopp tells CHS, “which is obviously caused in large part by the COVID virus.”
Also in the race heading into this summer’s top-two primary are Jessi Murray and Sherae Lascelles, two progressive candidates CHS spoke with in March about their hopes — and chances — to win the coveted seat. This is not the first time Rep. Chopp has faced competition from challengers on the left — he defeated Socialist Alternative candidate Jess Spear back in 2014 and Kshama Sawant in 2012.
Chopp challenges the assertion that his younger opponents are more progressive than he is. “I’ve been working to enact and carry out progressive policies for many years and I’m very energized and organized to do even more,” he said. “So in the case of socialists running against me — the last time they did it was with Ms. Spear and I won 82.3% of the vote, that’s 82.3% of the vote, but because I don’t take anything for granted I’m working and campaigning very hard this year on progressive policies. … I have a very good, very strong, progressive record for years and we’re building on that.”
Chopp’s Capitol Hill credentials go back to the 1970s when he was among the earliest residents of 16th and Aloha’s PRAG House. In 1995, he began his first term in the state legislature and became speaker in 1999.
Chopp has championed housing initiatives like the Home and Hope project, turning public property spaces into affordable housing units, and the Workforce Education Investment Act, providing full grants for college tuition to low-income students and partial scholarships for middle-income students.
In 2014, he told CHS one of his proudest accomplishments was helping to create the state Housing Trust Fund. Chopp counted more than 70 projects in the 43rd District that benefitted from the fund, including 12th Avenue Arts.
According to Chopp’s announcement on his official filing, he is running with the support of unions of frontline workers, including health and child care workers, and has laid out a five-point agenda addressing many issues related to COVID-19 relief. The agenda focuses on homelessness and affordable housing, increasing access to healthcare, making higher education more accessible and reducing education-related debt.
“Part of the reason why I was able to accomplish so much and part of the reason I was able to be Speaker for twenty years was because I’m a community organizer which means when you do that you bring in a coalition of people and you make sure lots of people are there in the forefront,” he said. “For twenty years or longer I just haven’t talked that much about my role in these things. Well this year I’m telling people what I’ve done and it’s major and it’s very progressive.”
Washington’s all-mail, top-two primary takes place August 4th.
You can learn more about Chopp at frankchopp.com.