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Jeremy Knapp ‘21 talks interning for a state senator in Olympia, passion for political science and future career

Posted by: / March 16, 2020
Pacific Lutheran University political science major Jeremy Knapp ‘21 is learning the ins and outs of the Washington State Senate as an intern for Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) in Olympia. (Photo/John Froschauer)

Image: Pacific Lutheran University political science major Jeremy Knapp ‘21 is learning the ins and outs of the Washington State Senate as an intern for Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) in Olympia. (Photo/John Froschauer)

By By Ernest Jasmin
Guest Writer for Marketing and Communications

TACOMA, WASH. (March. 16, 2020) — Pacific Lutheran University political science major Jeremy Knapp ‘21 swears he has no desire to run for office, but his resume speaks of someone with great political aspirations nonetheless.

The junior turned 21 on March 4, and he already has nearly seven years of political work and volunteering experience under his belt. Just last year, he was campaign manager for Bellingham mayoral candidate Pinky Vargas, a field manager for Bellingham councilwoman Hannah Stone, and served as Lute Vote Volunteer Coordinator here on campus.

This quarter, Knapp is learning the ins and outs of the Washington State Senate as an intern for Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood). PLU graduate Curt Kohlwes ‘10 has worked as the senator’s legislative assistant since 2012, and he has been quite impressed with how Knapp has performed thus far.

“We have been lucky to have a lot of great interns in our office over the years,” Kohlwes said, “but Jeremy is truly top tier when it comes to his work ethic and enthusiasm for this environment.

“He is just as happy meeting with a group of constituents that swing by the office that may not particularly agree with us, as he is sticking around late to provide admin support for Sen. Liias when we are on the Senate floor. He jumps at the chance to expose himself to different opportunities.”

Recently PLU caught up with Knapp, who elaborated on his experiences in Olympia.

PLU: Tell us a bit about how you landed your internship.

Knapp: It’s a pretty intense application process. So, the way it works is you submit a resume, cover letter, personal essay and a few other materials, all to the intern coordinators themselves. The interviews are kind of intense. There’re questions literally built to scare you.

Some (senators’) offices go through interviews, but I didn’t have to do that. Sen. Liias’s office picked me. I got a notice early on that I was picked for his office, was really happy about it, and have enjoyed my time here.

PLU: What kinds of things have you been doing?

Knapp: I’m in charge of doing a few different things. I’m in charge of all the bill tracking. So, I need to look at all the bills that we’ve proposed and prioritized and figure out where they are in the process.

The second big responsibility I’ve got is dealing with poll requests. My senator is on the Rules Committee. So, we’ll get lots of emails saying, “Can you pull this from Rules Committee so it can be heard on the floor?” One of my primary jobs is tracking all of that. Those are like the two things I do every single day.

Outside of that, a lot of interns get to help write resolutions. I just submitted mine to the code reviser yesterday, which is really exciting. (Senate Resolution 8694 condemns the murder of Nikki Kuhnhausen, a trans teen who died last year, and other victims of anti-trans violence. It passed on March 5, the day Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act, which limits the ability of defendants to mount a defense based on discovery of a victim’s actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation.)

PLU: What kinds of things have been especially eye-opening for you?

Knapp: One of the things that’s been really eye-opening is realizing how much goes into what gets brought on the floor and how the floor actually works. If you watch TVW, you always hear (Sen. Liias) speak because he’s in charge of moving the senate along.

One of the coolest things I’ve learned is just how caring the members are. A lot of the senators that I end up interacting with — Sen. Liias, Sen. (Emily) Randall, Sen. (Andrew) Billig — are really caring people. They are fighting really hard for (bills) and making sure that we can pass legislation that actually helps people.

PLU: How has your internship complimented what you’ve learned at PLU?

Knapp: One of the things that we’ve talked about in a lot of political science classes is different theories on messaging and things like that. I feel like a lot of (lessons) end up reflecting what it’s like at the legislature.

PLU: What made you want to study political science in the first place?

Knapp: My motivation is definitely improving people’s lives and making a better world. It’s super cliché and I hate it, but that’s ultimately what’s motivated me into politics.

PLU: Will we see you in the news in a few years because you’re running for office?

Knapp (laughing): I think all the people who are elected are amazing. I think they are doing great at their job, and I do not want their job.

PLU: In an ideal world, what kind of position would you like to be in 10, 15 years from now?

Knapp: So, if I get here (to Olympia) and start working as an LA (legislative assistant) and then get offered a position in the governor’s office, I might very well take that position. If someone in the federal government wants me to work for them, I would be happy to jump into the federal Senate. I am very open, as long as I’m always supporting an amazing candidate who’s fighting for what we need.