Shaun Scott, Statewide Poverty Action Network Policy Lead and former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer, announced he will run to replace 30-year incumbent Rep. Frank Chopp, who announced he would not seek re-election in the 43rd Legislative District yesterday. 

Unbeatable for three decades, Chopp’s departure will likely attract a swarm of legislative hopefuls to the seat. During the course of his tenure, he earned a reputation as a hard-ass and a has-been progressive, but Scott, who voted for Chopp as recently as 2021, wants to emulate Chopp’s early-career appetite for bold, progressive policy. And with hardline progressives filling out open seats in the Seattle delegation in recent years, Scott foresees a “wave of energy” if he and other progressives continue to replace recent retirees. 

Scott has lived in the 43rd LD — which includes the University District, Wallingford, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and Madison Park — consistently since 2018 and on-and-off for many years before then. Voters will remember his face from his failed 2019 campaign for the District 4 seat on the Seattle City Council. In that race, big business spent 100 times the amount of money on his opponent, Alex Pedersen, than organized labor spent on his lefty campaign. And yet he still only lost by four points. 

Now, running on the same values, Scott thinks he has an even better chance of winning. His 2019 platform has only gained popularity, he told The Stranger. Scott supported a municipal broadband program that became such a pressing issue when the pandemic brought office jobs home that his opponent eventually came out in support of it after taking office. He called his 2019 campaign one of the first in the city to very clearly criticize the City’s relationship with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, an issue that would take center stage in the 2020 resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Scott’s 2024 platform would also push the Overton window in the Legislature. Some usually uninformed or closet-conservative candidates rely on vague platitudes, particularly in the early days of their campaign. But Scott published a meaty platform, demonstrating his savvy by proposing more than 100 specific, progressive policies. Since there’s only so many days in a state representative's two year term, he said he would first focus on raising the oil spill tax, establishing a workgroup to propose Long COVID policies, and finally enacting rent stabilization.

Sounds great, Scott, but Democrats suck shit at wielding power. Even with the Democrats' majority in the Legislature, the party consistently bends to the whim of Republicans–votes they don’t have to earn, allies they don’t have to keep to get anything passed. Constituents saw this when, despite huge outpouring of support, two conservative Democrats, Sens. Mark Mullet and Kevin Van De Wege, killed a bill this session to limit landlords' ability to gouge rents. 

Scott is not sure how he would have pushed for rent stabilization differently, but in general he said that some Democrats act complacent under a Democratic president, corporate lobbyists buy some lawmakers’ influence, and overall politicians “go along to get along.” Scott doesn’t want to do that. In his lobbying job, he’s fought uphill battles for progressive causes such as the historic capital gains tax in 2021 and the Working Families Tax Credit, which went unfunded for more than a decade. He also co-authored Washington’s basic income pilot in 2022. And most recently, last year, he worked with Chopp to pass a bill to offset the harms of exclusionary, racist housing covenants.

But as a lobbyist, Scott only takes some of the credit. He said change happens with public pressure. If elected, he said his role would be to be responsive to the real movers and shakers on the ground.