Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., speaks with reporters as he departs after a meeting with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Capitol Hill on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press file)

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., speaks with reporters as he departs after a meeting with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Capitol Hill on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press file)

Heck joins crowded field for lieutenant governor

SEATTLE— U.S. Rep. Denny Heck said Thursday he is running for Washington lieutenant governor following last month’s surprise announcement by incumbent Cyrus Habib that he would not seek re-election.

Habib plans to join the Jesuit religious order.

The lieutenant governor is officially responsible for presiding over the Senate while the Legislature is in session and filling in when the governor travels out of state. But occupants of the office have sought to broaden their scope of influence by going on trade missions and supporting other favored causes.

Heck was elected to the newly formed 10th Congressional District, which included Olympia, in 2012.

Democratic state Sens. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, and Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, are already running for lieutenant governor, with Liias this week receiving an endorsement from Habib.

On the Republican side, candidates include Ann Sattler, an attorney who ran unsuccessfully for Seattle City Council last year; and Joseph Brumbles, who ran unsuccessfully against Heck in the 10th Congressional District in 2018.

Heck, a Democrat, was endorsed by former Gov. Christine Gregoire, who said Heck will bring a steady hand to the office and use it to promote the state’s economy.

Also serving as one of the co-chairs of Heck’s election committee is Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, who represents the 6th Congressional District which includes the North Olympic Peninsula.

The Seattle Times reported there has been speculation that the position could be an easy steppingstone to the governor’s office if Gov. Jay Inslee wins a third term this fall but later accepts a job in a Democratic presidential administration.

But Heck said while he’d be ready to assume the duties of governor temporarily in such a scenario, he would not become a candidate for the office in any subsequent election.

“I will not stand for election, period,” he said.