Midday Scan: McKenna's burden vs. Inslee's slow start

Rob McKenna could be stuck with trouble over the health care case. But Jay Inslee has shown relatively little knowledge of state governance.

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Congressman Jay Inslee.

Rob McKenna could be stuck with trouble over the health care case. But Jay Inslee has shown relatively little knowledge of state governance.

Thanks to the Obamacare lawsuit, Rob McKenna is carrying a millstone of the kind Oscar Wilde understood. As Wilde wrote, "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." If McKenna gets his wish and components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are struck down, the political blowback in Washington state could be fierce.

"Ever since he joined the multistate lawsuit challenging President Obama's health-care overhaul, state Attorney General Rob McKenna has taken pains to say his goal is not to kill the entire law," the Seattle Times' Jim Brunner writes. "McKenna, the Republican gubernatorial hopeful, has voiced support for the more popular provisions — such as allowing children to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26, and the ban on insurers denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions." 

Brunner notes that McKenna's personal focus on the not-so-popular requirement that everyone purchase health insurance is at variance with the suit's overarching goal of invalidating Obamacare entirely. If that happens, legalistic word parsing about intent could hit like a lead balloon. In practice the Supreme Court's ruling may be the ticking bomb for the gubernatorial front runner.

One point in McKenna's favor: His opponent, Jay Inslee, is still getting his sea legs. As The Stranger's Eli Sanders writes, Inslee benefits from some natural advantages, including rugged good looks and an amiable disposition. Inslee is also running in a very blue state that hasn't elected a Republican governor in 32 years. So how to explain Inslee's lackluster start?  

"Ideally, a Democratic candidate for governor shouldn't have to be working so hard to introduce himself to core Democratic constituencies in the most liberal city in the most liberal county in the state. Polls, however, keep on revealing a situation that's decidedly not ideal for Inslee," Sanders writes. "Take the SurveyUSA poll that was released on February 16 and showed McKenna beating Inslee in the Seattle metropolitan area — in the Seattle metropolitan area — 46 percent to 38 percent. The main reason Inslee is trailing here? A lot of voters in King County, where McKenna served for years on the county council before rising to the post of attorney general, simply know McKenna's name better." 

There are seven months left for Inslee, who holds a slight fundraising advantage that will help when the airwaves get clogged with political noise starting in the summer. Inslee has time to do his homework. Rob McKenna, Sanders writes, has "a granular knowledge of Washington State politics and policy, something Inslee — more steeped in federal policy — has struggled to convincingly display." 

The Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly offers a series of sharp snapshots on the bevy of candidates seeking to become the next member of Congress from the 1st Congressional district. It's an eclectic mix, with no one hinting to drop out. Could the internecine fight among the Democrats make it that much easier for Republican John Koster to win in November?    

"The race in the redrawn 1st District, to pick a successor to Jay Inslee, ought to draw attention: It'll be a close, costly race for a tough job, namely representing 600,000 people  from Redmond and Medina all the way north to the U.S.-Canada border," Connelly writes. "The new Congress member will fight intellectual piracy with Microsoft, come face-to-face with security and liberty conflicts along a heavily policed border, represent a growing immigrant population, and find himself/herself in the middle of a brawl over the huge coal plant proposed for Cherry Point near Ferndale." 

A takeaway from Connelly's attendance at last week's Everett debate. "The most impressive candidates: Laura Ruderman and Darshan Rauniyar," Connelly writes. 

State Rep. Reuven Carlyle sounds like a sui generis cross between Craig McCaw and Cornell West. Reacting to Gov. Gregoire veto of a study of State Patrol radio upgrades (Carlyle believed it was a waste of money and represented old-school thinking regarding new technology) the Seattle Democrat writes that, "this battle is really a religious war between old, proprietary-hardware thinking and the new world of the Web, with open-standards-based software. That is the fundamental disconnect. The public sector is addicted to the crack cocaine of expensive, proprietary, vendor-driven solutions."  

Carlyle earns political-courage props, although Midday Scan's author is forwarding his remarks to George Will for a proper syntactical analysis. (The News Tribune's Jordan Schrader has the full story.) 

Lastly, opponents of same-sex marriage are willing to come out of the closet. The Herald's Julie Muhlstein profiles a couple community leaders helping with the signature-gathering campaign for Referendum 74 to overturn Washington's marriage-equality law. Muhlstein's column is instructive because it opens a window on the nature and thinking of marriage-equality foes.

Link Summary

Seattle Times "If 'Obamacare' falls, McKenna could pay political price"

The Stranger, "Does Jay Inslee exist?"

Seattlepi.com, "The supplicants and the U.S. House seat"

The News Tribune, "Gov. Gregoire vetoes study of State Patrol radio upgrade"

The Herald, "Gay marriage opponents not afraid to gather signatures"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson