State Senator Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) supports increasing the minimum wage statewide.
State Senator Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) at a recent rally in support of a statewide minimum wage increase. Alex Garland

State Senator Pramila Jayapal tells The Stranger she's seriously considering a run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Jim McDermott, who plans to retire this year after 14 terms.

If Jayapal does jump in, she could easily position herself to the left of the other candidates seriously considering a run and could do very well.

In the local political landscape, Jayapal occupies a unique spot.

She's a staunchly progressive activist who supports socialist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant. But Jayapal also has strong ties to the Democratic party. She's close with Mayor Ed Murray and endorsed Council Member Tim Burgess, who are both often criticized by Sawant backers as being too moderate.

Since being elected in 2014 to represent south Seattle's 37th District, Jayapal has fought for strengthened voting rights and a higher minimum wage (a fight she plans to bring back to the legislature—and possibly to the ballot—this year). Born in India, she previously founded and led the immigrant advocacy group OneAmerica. She is now the only woman of color in the state senate.

It's widely expected that Jayapal would like to run for Congress some day and that she'd be a strong contender. So, while she doesn't live in the 7th Congressional District (not a requirement to run for Congress), her name has been circulating since McDermott's retirement announcement on Monday.

David Rolf, president of Service Employees International Union 775 and one of the lead negotiators on Seattle's minimum wage increase, says that if Jayapal does decide to run "she would be a frontrunner from day one."