New state House Republican leader J.T. Wilcox joins The Overcast to talk President Trump, Gov. Inslee and whether Seattle has too much sway in state politics.

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Despite Washington’s reputation as a blue state, Republicans have remained competitive when it comes to the state Legislature. They held the state Senate majority until losing a special election last fall. And in the state House, a once daunting Democratic majority has shrunk to a 50-48 margin.

If Republicans flip a couple seats this fall, they could topple the record-setting tenure of Seattle Democrat Frank Chopp as Speaker of the House. If that happens, the House gavel could be passed to Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, who was named House Republican leader this month, replacing retiring Rep. Dan Kristiansen.

On Episode 73 of The Overcast, the Seattle Times weekly politics podcast, Wilcox joins hosts Jim Brunner and Dan Beekman to discuss the Republican agenda in the Legislature, his views of Gov. Jay Inslee and whether liberal Seattle Democrats hold too much sway over policy in the Capitol.

Wilcox is no Trump. It’s not his style to tweet insults at opponents, and he argues Republicans in the Legislature shouldn’t necessarily be tied to the national party in the midterms.

“We know that the Democrats in general are going to try to nationalize every election and we’re going to try to localize every election,” he says.

Wilcox gives his take on what some Republicans have called the “Emerald Curtain,” pitting the liberal Seattle electorate against the rest of the state.

“We know that we are fortunate to have this kind of historical global hot spot that Seattle represents right now, but there is a lot of the state of Washington that is left behind, and we are there to represent them,” he says, citing regulations tailored for the city that don’t make sense in rural areas.

Also covered: why Wilcox and most House Republicans voted against a ban on bump stocks, his view on the leadership of Chopp and Gov. Jay Inslee, the GOP message headed into the 2018 midterms and whether Wilcox himself might run for statewide office down the road.

This episode was recorded at the Seattle studios of public radio 88.5 FM KNKX, as part of an ongoing partnership.

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