Lisa Brown (Washington politician)

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Lisa Brown
Lisa Brown (politician).jpg
Chancellor of Washington State University, Spokane
In office
January 2013 – June 2017
Preceded by Brian Pitcher
Succeeded by Daryll DeWald
Majority Leader of the Washington Senate
In office
January 2005 – January 2013
Preceded by Jim West
Succeeded by Rodney Tom
Member of the Washington Senate
from the 3rd district
In office
January 1997 – January 2013
Preceded by John A. Moyer
Succeeded by Andy Billig
Member of the Washington House of Representatives
from the 3rd district
In office
January 1993 – January 1997
Preceded by Dennis Dellwo
Succeeded by Jeff Gombosky
Personal details
Born (1956-10-09) October 9, 1956 (age 61)
Robinson, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Brian McClatchey (2017–present)
Children 1
Education University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (BA)
University of Colorado, Boulder (MA, PhD)
Website Campaign website

Lisa J. Brown (born October 9, 1956) is an American educator and politician from the State of Washington. She is a Democrat. Brown served in the State House of Representatives from 1993-1997 and the State Senate from 1997-2013, where she served as the first female Majority Leader from 2005-2013. After leaving the state senate, Brown became the Chancellor of Washington State University Spokane. She stepped down from that position in June 2017 in order to run for the United States House of Representatives representing Washington's 5th congressional district, centered around Spokane, in the 2018 election. She is challenging Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Early life, education, and personal life[edit]

Lisa J. Brown was born October 9, 1956, in Robinson, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in sociology and economics. She earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder.[1][2]

Brown married Spokane City Council policy adviser Brian McClatchey on October 10, 2017. The two had met in 2010 while campaigning for Spokane Mayor Mary Verner'd re-election campaign.[3] Brown has one child from a previous relationship.[1]


Outside of politics, Brown primarily worked in higher education, primarily as a professor and a university administrator. Brown began working as an associate professor of economics at Eastern Washington University in 1981, a position she would hold until 2001. She served briefly as the interim director of the university's Women's Center in 1983.[4]

Around 1990, Brown traveled to Nicaragua to teach economics at the Central American University in Managua, where she supported the Sandinista government. When the conservative National Opposition Union won power in 1990, Brown expressed worry that the new leaders would walk back the partially state-run command economy, replacing it with a more conservative, market-based economy.[5]

Brown also worked as a professor in organizational leadership at Gonzaga University from 2001 until 2012.[1][2] She became the Chancellor of Washington State University Spokane in 2013 after leaving the state senate. As chancellor, Brown oversaw the creation of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, the first medical school in the Washington State University system and the second public medical school in the state. The school opened in 2015 and its inaugural class was seated in the fall of 2017.[6]

In 2016, Brown accompanied former Lieutenant Governor of Washington Brad Owen to Cuba on a fact-finding trip concerning healthcare. Upon return, Brown praised aspects of the community-based Cuban healthcare system in an interview. In the same interview, Brown stated that aspects of the Cuban model should be used in the United States.[7]

Washington State Legislature[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]

Brown was first elected to the state legislature in 1992. She received 46.51% of the vote out in a field of five candidates (which included four fellow Democrats) during the September primary election. In the November general election, she defeated Republican Chuck Potter by receiving 64.48% of the vote to Potter's 35.52%. She was reelected in 1994, receiving 64.55% to Republican John G. Titchenal's 35.45%.[8] Brown was named minority floor leader at the start of her second term.[9]

Committee assignments[edit]

First term:

  • Committee on Transportation, Vice-Chair
  • Committee on Revenue
  • Committee on Human Services

Second term:

  • Committee on Transportation
  • Committee on Children and Family Services
  • Rules Committee[1]

State senate[edit]

Brown announced she would challenge one-term incumbent John A. Moyer in the 1996 election on April 22, 1996. In her announcement, she named education and welfare as her two major priorities for the campaign and her tenure. Due to Moyer's perceived vulnerability and the potential for the seat to swing the balance of power in the state senate, the race was expected to be one of the most competitive and expensive in the state.[10] Brown went on to win the election, receiving 57.65% of the vote in the September primary and 55.3% of the vote in the general election. Brown was unopposed in 2000. She won over 60% of the vote in 2004 and almost 75% of the vote in 2008.[11]

Political positions[edit]

Tax policy[edit]

At a candidates' debate in Spokane in 1996, State Senator John A. Moyer, whom Brown was challenging, questioned why Brown voted in 1993 for what he called the biggest tax increase in state history. Brown replied that Moyer mischaracterized the vote, and said she supported the tax increase to balance the budget.[12]

In 1995, when the state had a budget surplus, Brown criticized Republicans for not offering tax breaks to middle class families. Brown supported using the surplus to lower the state sales tax and property taxes for low- and middle-income families.[13] She opposed a Republican-supported measure to raise the gas tax.[14]

In 2005, Brown voted against a $258 million property tax cut.[15] Washington law, passed by voter initiative I-960, requires that a two-thirds majority be reached in the legislature on bills which raise taxes. As State Senate Majority Leader, Brown initiated a lawsuit in 2009 challenging the measure, which the state supreme court rejected unanimously.[16] Later, in 2010, Brown voted yes on S.B. 6843 and S.B. 6130 to suspend the two-thirds threshold required by state law to raise taxes.[17][18] In 2005, Brown had advocated for the legislature to be given the authority to raise taxes without having to meet the two-thirds threshold.[19]

Welfare policy[edit]

Brown's time in the House coincided with a national movement for welfare reform, a large part of President Bill Clinton's agenda. Brown was opposed to welfare reform that involved making any cuts to the program, specifically those which cut programs for parents and children.[20] She opposed a welfare bill that would end benefits for teenage parents and put a two-year cap on benefits for everyone.[21] Approximately 40% of the citizens in Spokane relied on public assistance programs during Brown's tenure.[22]

2018 U.S. House candidacy[edit]

After months of speculation, Brown announced her candidacy for Congress on August 31, 2017.[23] She is challenging Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She is running to represent Washington's 5th congressional district, which has not had a Democratic representative since former House Speaker Tom Foley lost reelection to George Nethercutt in 1994 during the Republican Revolution.[24]

During a December 20, 2017, town hall, Brown opposed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Republican-supported legislation which had been passed earlier that month, which lowered personal and corporate tax rates, and repealed the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act. McMorris Rodgers, as the Chair of the Republican House Caucus, was one of the major proponents of the legislation. Brown criticized the bill, saying it wasunfairly beneficial to wealthier Americans, increased the deficit, and forced tax cuts to programs such as health care and agriculture.[25]

In the August blanket primary, Brown received 45.36% of the vote to 49.29 percent for McMorris Rodgers. [26] As of early August 2018, Brown had raised about $2.4 million and McMorris Rodgers had raised about $3.8 million for their campaigns.[27]


  1. ^ a b c d "Lisa J. Brown" (PDF). Washington State Legislature. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Lisa Brown". Washington State University, Spokane. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  3. ^ Hill, Kip (October 12, 2017). "Congressional candidate Lisa Brown marries Spokane City Council policy adviser". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  4. ^ Memorandum to the Friends of the Women's Center from Lee Swedberg, September 15, 1983, Women's Center Publications, EWU University Archives and Special Collections
  5. ^ Pallasch, Abdon (February 28, 1990). "Sandalistas' cannot bear to see the Sandinistas lose power". UPI. Retrieved 3 July 2018. 
  6. ^ Garnick, Coral (February 24, 2016). "UW, Gonzaga finalize partnership to run Spokane medical school". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved February 24, 2016. 
  7. ^ Earling, Eric (November 6, 2016). "Lessons from Cuba: Q&A with WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown". State of Reform. Retrieved 3 July 2018. 
  8. ^ Wyman, Kim. "Election Results Search". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Leadership Post Given Rep. Brown". The Spokesman-Review. June 12, 1995. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  10. ^ Camden, Jim (April 23, 1996). "Brown Will Seek Moyer's Senate Seat". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  11. ^ Wyman, Kim. "Election Results Search". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  12. ^ Lynch, Jim (September 28, 1996). "Moyer, Brown Face Off At Debate Four House Candidates Also Meet, Discuss Taxes, Legalizing Drugs". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  13. ^ Brunner, Jim (March 2, 1995). "Tax-Cut Frenzy Hits Session Lawmakers Bursting With Tax-Break Ideas To Divvy Up $500 Million Surplus Left From 1993-95 Budget". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  14. ^ Brunner, Jim (March 17, 1995). "Gop Plan Asks For Higher Gas Taxes, License Fees". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Part XIII 2 State Property Tax" (PDF). Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  16. ^ Feit, Josh (March 5, 2009). "State Supreme Court Dismisses I-960 Lawsuit". Seattle Met. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  17. ^ "SB 6843 - 2009-10". 
  18. ^ "SB 6843 - 2009-10". 
  19. ^ McGann, Chris (March 15, 2005). "Senators Draft Measure to Erase Tax Vote". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  20. ^ Brown, Lisa (June 4, 1995). "Woman Tells Of Fine Print In 'Contract' Day-Care Provider Takes On Gop Over Meal-Subsidy Cuts". The Spokesman-Review. 
  21. ^ Lynda V., Mapes (February 1, 1995). "Welfare Reform Cracks Down On Teen Parents Republican Measure Also Would Cut Off Benefits After Two Years". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  22. ^ Lynch, Jim (August 23, 1996). "Children's Advocates Protest Welfare Bill Young Children Stand To Lose Most Under Reform Bill Signed Thursday, Activists Say". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  23. ^ Hill, Kip (August 31, 2017). "Lisa Brown, former lawmaker and WSU chancellor, announces 2018 run for Congress". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved March 29, 2018. 
  24. ^ Connelly, Joel (September 1, 2017). "Connelly: A top House race -- Lisa Brown takes on Rep. McMorris Rodgers". Seattle PI. Retrieved December 30, 2017. 
  25. ^ Collingwood, Ryan (December 20, 2017). "In town hall, 5th District challenger Lisa Brown stakes out stance against GOP tax plan". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved January 3, 2018. 
  26. ^ "August 7, 2018 Primary Results - Congressional District 5 - U.S. Representative". Retrieved 2018-09-17. 
  27. ^ "Washington state primary election: GOP's McMorris Rodgers, Herrera Beutler face tight races in November". The Seattle Times. August 7, 2018. Retrieved August 9, 2018. 

External links[edit]