State Sen. Cyrus Habib announced Friday he is a candidate for lieutenant governor.
OLYMPIA — State Sen. Cyrus Habib, a Kirkland Democrat, announced Friday he will run for lieutenant governor in the 2016 election, and hopes to make that office a “megaphone” for issues such as education reforms and action on climate change.
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen said Friday he hasn’t decided whether he’ll run again for the post voters first elected him to in 1996.
Habib, 34, elected to the state House in 2012 and to the Senate in 2014 praised Owen’s work on trade and economic development. Habib said he wants to build on that — and advocate for state tourism.
He said he has ideas on reforming the legislative session so lawmakers don’t run into overtime, like the three special sessions it took this year to complete a budget.
“We’re going to make that office an even more powerful one than it is right now,” said Habib, an attorney, adding later: “I’m passionate about big-picture issues of justice, but also how can the law be used as a tool kit to get where we need to go.”
Owen, a former legislator known for his classic rock guitar playing, said he won’t decide whether to seek another term until the January legislative session or after. He and his wife are discussing it, and Owen said, “we’ll make the decision on our own future … and what we think is best for us.”
Owen pointed to his work on international trade missions and youth advocacy as hallmarks of his tenure as lieutenant governor.
But Owen in recent years has also faced ethics questions. In a settlement last year with the Washington State Executive Ethics Board, he agreed to pay a $10,000 fine over a complaint that he used state resources for a former nonprofit organization of his. In 2012, the state Public Disclosure Commission fined Owen after his campaign filed finance reports late.
In addition to succeeding the governor if necessary and other miscellaneous roles, the lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate.
In a fundraising email Friday, the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party described Habib as a “far-left extremist.”
“Habib may appeal to the Seattle liberal elites, the special interests, and the union bosses — but his values are out of touch with the values of the voters of Washington state,” wrote Susan Hutchison.