State Rep. Jim Moeller, one of the more liberal Democrats in the House, will give up the seat he’s held for more than a decade to run for lieutenant governor.
If elected, the Vancouver resident said he would use the seat to promote a left-leaning agenda. His platform includes increasing the statewide minimum wage to $15, pushing for stricter gun regulations and passing a capital gains tax to help fund the state’s education system.
“I’ll be running way left of center,” Moeller said.
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, a Democrat, has held the seat since 1996 and is currently the longest-serving lieutenant governor in the nation. Owen has not decided yet whether he will seek re-election in 2016, a spokesman from his office said on Monday.
Moeller joins a growing field of candidates vying for the seat. State Sens. Karen Fraiser, D-Olympia, and Cyrus Habib, D-Seattle, are also running for the seat. A Republican, Javier Figueroa, also declared for the position.
The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate and acts as governor when the state’s top official is unable to do so.
Owen, the current lieutenant governor, used the seat to promote an anti-drug message in schools and to promote trade with other countries.
Moeller said he believes he could do more. A chemical dependency counselor with Kaiser Permanente, Moeller first became engaged in politics during the 1990s, when he worked to defeat Measure 9 in Oregon, which would have limited what public school students could be taught about sexual orientation.
“My public career began when I basically stopped an out-of-state hate group,” Moeller said, referring to the Oregon Citizen’s Alliance, which promoted Measure 9.
He served eight years on the Vancouver City Council before being elected to the House in November 2002. As speaker pro tempore, Moeller holds a powerful position, often presiding over the House.
As a state representative, he pushed to divest the state’s retirement accounts from investing in Darfur oil fields, he said. Moeller has consistently pushed for a measure to require lobbyists and their employers to file electronic expense reports, in an effort to provide greater transparency, and create a searchable online database through the state’s Public Disclosure Commission.
Moeller has represented the 49th Legislative District since 2003.
“We have a deep bench in the 49th District,” he said. “There are many voices that need to be heard. It’s time for me to go up or out.”
Former State Rep. Monica Stonier, a Democrat, recently moved from the 17th Legislative District into the 49th Legislative District and confirmed she’s interested in Moeller’s House seat. Current Vancouver City Councilor Alishia Topper also confirmed she’s considering a run for the seat.