State Sen. Marko Liias, who represents the 21st Legislative District that includes Edmonds and Lynnwood, announced Tuesday he will seek the office of lieutenant governor.
Incumbent Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib has announced he is retiring.
A lifelong Washingtonian, Liias has represented Snohomish County’s 21st Legislative District in the House and Senate since 2008. If elected, he will be Washington’s first openly gay statewide executive.
“I look forward to lending my experience working for the families and small businesses of Washington state to the task ahead,” Liias said. “I grew up in a middle class family, my dad is a carpenter and my mom was a school lunch lady. As lieutenant governor, I’ll continue my work building an economy that works for everyone, expanding equitable access to education and opportunity, and ensuring that our state is a model for social justice and inclusion.”
Liias notes that as part of the executive and legislative branches, the office of the lieutenant governor serves as president of the state Senate and aims to bridge divides between lawmakers and advance important legislation. As majority floor leader since 2017, Liias has had primary responsibility for drafting the Senate’s parliamentary rules, scheduling legislation for Senate votes, and serving as the Senate’s liaison to the lieutenant governor.
“I’ve had the honor of working in Senate leadership on everything from paid family leave to passing a budget that makes record investments in quality education, mental health coverage and affordable housing,” Liias said. “I know that we can accomplish so much more in the years to come for Washington. I know that we can harness the spirit of innovation that has led our state to build the best airplanes, write the best software, and grow crops that feed the world to meet the challenges we face today.”
When not managing legislative outcomes in the Senate, the lieutenant governor plays a significant role in advancing international relations and promoting trade opportunities. Liias represented the state in official delegations to South Korea and Spain, as well as the 2019 Paris Air Show.
“I look forward to building on the strong foundation Lt. Governor Habib has established, expanding opportunities through international partnerships and trade,” he said. “We have all watched as the Trump administration has alienated our allies and praised brutal dictators. I will share the message that Washington is a great place to invest, to create jobs, to work and to live.”
Liias, 38, first took office at the age of 26, becoming the youngest member of the state House at that time, the first Millennial elected to state office and one of only a handful of LGBTQ legislators. A champion for marriage equality and anti-bullying, he led the effort to ban conversion therapy in 2018. He was also the prime sponsor of legislation to authorize the largest expansion of mass transit in state history through Sound Transit 3.
“I am proud to be part of a generational shift toward new leadership in our state, bringing the voices of younger, progressive, and diverse communities to the political stage,” Liias said. “I am also proud of my role in advocating for the rights of all people—including LGBTQ populations that face unique challenges in our state and our nation. I look forward to using the platform of statewide office to fight for positive change for all of Washingtonians.”
Liias comes into the race with the early endorsement of the national LGBTQ Victory Fund. President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund — and former mayor of Houston — Annise Parker said she is excited Liias is stepping forward to lend “his experience and his vision to lead Washington through this crisis and in the important work that lies ahead.”
“Sen. Liias has been a strong and determined champion for LGBTQ people in Washington and his leadership has contributed to national progress on banning conversion therapy,” she said. “As he steps up to serve in a statewide executive role, he will continue to break barriers and advance our shared mission of equality for all Americans.”
Liias was born in Edmonds, and graduated from the Mukilteo School District before becoming the first in his family to attend college. He graduated with a bachelor’s from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and a master’s from the University of Washington’s Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs.
He first served in elected office as a Mukilteo City Councilmember and helped found a small family-owned construction company. He is an adjunct faculty member at Everett Community College and serves as a trustee of the Seattle Repertory Theatre.