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The Governor's race: Tough times, solid candidates

Rob McKenna and Jay Inlsee bring skill, broad knowledge, and smarts to a gubernatorial campaign that will hinge on independent voters  both appeal to.

Rep. Jay Inslee is interviewed on KCTS 9 by Enrique Cerna.

Rep. Jay Inslee is interviewed on KCTS 9 by Enrique Cerna. KCTS 9

Rob McKenna

Rob McKenna Office of Attorney General

I'm not sure why anyone would want to be governor right now, but in Washington we're lucky that the 2012 gubernatorial race is shaping up as a battle between at least two quality candidates. Are the worst of times bringing out our best people? Let's hope so. 

Ideologies aside, Attorney General Rob McKenna, the Republican, and Congressman Jay Inslee, the Democrat, are experienced, smart, and decent men. There will be a lot of money spent convincing the voters otherwise. Conservative commentator John Carlson estimates that it will be a $45 or $50 million race, a good thing for Carlson's KOMO and every other radio and TV station in the state. Want to boost the local economy? Drain the PACs of money pitching sleazy campaign ads. It's toxic, but it pays.

Political bases will need to be mobilized. The Republicans will try to spin (well, they already have) Inslee as Jim McDermott-lite. The Democrats will position McKenna as a gay- and health-care-hating right-winger. But the real race is more likely to occur in the battle for the middle.

The top two candidates have not yet been picked, and there could be other major candidates in the primary mix. But Inslee and McKenna are looking beyond the primary to the general, as evidenced by their announcements. As has been noted, both played against type a little bit.

McKenna came out as wanting to dramatically boost education spending, especially in higher-ed, by billions of dollars. This will be music to the ears of education boosters, especially the business community, which wants a strong University of Washington, a key part of the state's economic engine. The system is already seeing huge tuition increases, and struggling with some realities. King County, for example, only produces only 25 percent of its own college graduates.

That we still have a large percentage of grads here is a testament to our ability to import them from elsewhere. Washington remains near the bottom of states producing own homegrown bachelor's degrees. Such a stand shows that McKenna is no anti-government Tea Partier, no Ron or Rand Paul libertarian out to privatize everything, even if he thinks he can do this without raising taxes (good luck with that).

In Inslee's campaign announcement he came out strong with a pro-business pitch. He said, essentially, that he would do just about anything to keep and attract business and jobs for Washington, indicating a full willingness to engage in dog-eat-dog competition with other states. He also made the suggestion that small slice of state workers pension funds could be invested in innovative local start-ups, a somewhat surprising stance for a Democrat who doesn't want to see Social Security privatized. (McKenna has already pooh-poohed the idea.) Isn't part of the argument against privatization to protect pensions from Wall Street and high-risk ventures?

Still, it's an important statement to funders that Inslee is a pro-business Democrat. He's also said he opposes the income tax, and while he hasn't ruled out closing loopholes, so far there is no populist emphasis on eliminating subsidies or tax favors for big businesses. Indeed, if you're going to compete for business with other states, these are the tools in your arsenal. They're how you "wheedle and cajole."

The reason for these counter-type declarations is to get people to take another look at the candidates beyond the labels because success will lie in snagging as many independents as possible. The race will come down to how well Inslee and McKenna do in Pugetopolis' populous counties, and where swing voters go. King, Pierce, Kitsap and Snohomish counties will be key, as will vote margins. McKenna would like to do, at the very worst worst, at least a 134 votes better than Dino Rossi did in 2004.

Inslee, who has the rare distinction of having served in Congress representing both sides of the Cascade Curtain, has at least some chance of picking up votes in central Washington and doing well in Spokane and Whitman counties. Unlike many gubernatorial candidates, he's not an utter stranger to the issues and landscape of Eastern Washington. He even served in the state house representing the Yakima area.


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Jul 6, 8:21 a.m. Inappropriate

During his last campaign, Jay Inslee took money from:

Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; Palm Springs CA
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians; Roseburg, OR
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe; Sequim, WA
Lummi Nation; Bellingham, WA
Mashantucket Pequot Tribe; Mashantucket, CT
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians; Philadelphia, MS
Morongo Band of Mission Indians; Cabazon, CA
NIGA Sovereignty PAC; Washington D.C.
Pechanga Band of Mission Indians; Temecula, CA
Poarch Band of Creek Indians; Atmore, AL
Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe; Kingstofn, WA
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan; Mt. Pleasant, MI
Salt River Pima Maricopa Tribe; Scottsdale, AZ
San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians; Highland, CA
Spokane Tribe; Wellpinit, WA
Suquamish Indian Tribe; Suquamish, WA
Swinomish Tribe; LaConner, WA
Tulalip Tribe; Marysville, WA
Upper Skagit Tribe; Sedro Wooley, WA

In the Affordable Health Care Act, tribal members were granted exemptions from the personal mandate that the rest of us will labor under. Will Washington's next governor represent Washington's citizenry or sovereign nations?

BlueLight

Posted Wed, Jul 6, 9:43 a.m. Inappropriate

While Attorney General Rob McKenna filed suit to dismantle the Affordable Health Care Act. We now know where he stands on this issue, with the Insurance Companies.

GaryP

Posted Wed, Jul 6, 10:03 a.m. Inappropriate

Democrats pissed in the whiskey of health care reform by granting exemptions to their political allies/contributors (unions, tribes). If a law does not apply equally to everyone, it should be scrapped. Do most Americans want health care reform? Probably. Do most American want health care reform under which some are saddled so that others can ride? Probably not.

BlueLight

Posted Wed, Jul 6, 10:26 a.m. Inappropriate

Whether BlueLight likes it or not, Indian Tribes have sovereign nation status that requires somewhat different treatment.

Do I want Health Care Reform scrapped because it treats Indian Health Services differently? Hell no!

quiller

Posted Wed, Jul 6, 10:59 a.m. Inappropriate

BlueLight, you're beating a dead horse. The Government Accountability Office put that waiver issue to rest in the last month or so, finding there was no favoritism involved in the Obama administration's granting of waivers allowing mini-med plans until 2014. Both corporate and union plans got waivers, and most applicants received them. That report and others explained that it was unfortunately necessarily to grant these waivers to keep people covered until the full provisions and subsidies of the health reform law take effect in 2014.
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11725r.pdf

As far as McKenna being a strong consumer advocate, when I was reporting my article for Crosscut last summer on collection agencies getting civil debtors jailed, I called McKenna's office to see if he had a position on this, and his office twice told me that this wasn't within the AG's jurisdiction. I said, huh, this is clearly a consumer protection issue. But after checking, the spokeswoman said to me again that it wasn't within the office's purview. When Rep. Stanford later got his reform bill passed, the enforcement authority is specifically under the state consumer protection act, which certainly is within the AG's purview. So this must have been one class of consumers the AG wasn't particularly interested in advocating for.

Posted Wed, Jul 6, 11:48 a.m. Inappropriate

Members of indian tribes are exempt from the individual mandate that will burden other Americans. That type of waiver is not discussed in your GAO PDF (there are six broad waivers available under the PPACA). Exempting peoples, based on race, from fiscal responsibilities others must shoulder is racist political pandering, and that horse, Harris, is - unfortunately - not "dead".

BlueLight

Posted Wed, Jul 6, 12:41 p.m. Inappropriate

I too closely watched McKenna during the 90's, from a perspective more similar to your then than now. Even though I've personally moved to the right, I don't see McKenna following through on his financial criticism of big money public works projects such as Sound Transit where I did my observing.

Also of concern is the spread of a bi-partisan 'Nifong' politics under Gregoire and her corporate welfare Republican 'friends'. Toxic politics indeed, hopefully to all those who have even a shred of tolerance for same, even with the youngest of Gregoire's AG hires....

Posted Wed, Jul 6, 5:18 p.m. Inappropriate

I noted Mr. B's correct observation that our current Gov does not seem able to paint a very encouraging picture of the future of our state. I first met Jay Inslee when he and I were in High School and can assure all that he has always approached the issues at hand with a natural and rational optimism that things can and will be made better. Time and again he has followed through, and shown that his optimism was justified.

TaylorB1

Posted Fri, Jul 8, 10:56 p.m. Inappropriate

BlueLight, please research the concept of "treaties". You might also look up the definition of the word "burden".

sarah90

Posted Sat, Jul 9, 11:56 a.m. Inappropriate

Sarah90, please research the concept of "bribery" in the context of exclusive Tribal donations to one political party in power. You might also look up the meaning of the word "Criminal".

Cameron

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