Denny Heck is an excellent fit to serve as Washington’s lieutenant governor.
U.S. Rep. Heck, who is retiring from Congress after four terms, has the perfect combination of smarts and temperament to serve in the role of lieutenant governor in a manner similar to former office holders John Cherberg (1957 to 1989), Joel Pritchard (1989 to 1997) and Brad Owen (1997 to 2017).
Heck, a Democrat, also served five terms in the state Legislature and as chief of staff for Gov. Booth Gardner. His experience can’t be matched — and it dovetails perfectly with the historical expectations of the office.
His opponent state Sen. Marko Liias, also a Democrat, is certainly capable of serving as lieutenant governor.
However, his vision for the job seems to be as a super-senator. The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate as its president and is chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, which decides what bills are considered by the Senate.
In Washington, the lieutenant governor has traditionally filled those roles in nonpartisan ways, leaving legislating to the legislators.
Liias, who views himself as a progressive, said he plans a “bold transformative change” of the job to be more involved in the political process.
Heck, on the other hand, envisions the job more traditionally, which we see as a better approach.
Heck, whose politics are more moderate, certainly won’t be just a figurehead, but his experience and top-notch political instincts will allow him to stay above the political fray as Democrat Cherberg, Republican Pritchard and Democrat Owen did for six decades.
Yes, Heck has an agenda he wants to accomplish. The lieutenant governor, by law, is chairman of the Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations. Heck plans to use that role to help boost affordable housing in the state, which he sees as a way to address issues such as racial equality and retirement security.
But most importantly, Heck is extremely qualified to fill in as governor when needed. As a former gubernatorial chief of staff, he will slip into the role seamlessly — whether for a few hours, a few days or many months.
Gov. Jay Inslee made it crystal clear in our recent interview with him that he has no desire or plans to step down for a role in a Biden administration. Inslee said without equivocation he will serve his entire four years if re-elected. Yet, given the old rule in politics of “never say never,” it could happen.
If so, Heck would do a tremendous job as governor. He understands the legislative process, the role of the executive branch and he has great people skills.
Heck, however, makes it clear he doesn’t want to be governor — he wants to be lieutenant governor.
We urge voters to elect him to the office.