It’s been said that Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna’s gubernatorial ambitions are the biggest open secret in Washington politics. Tomorrow, McKenna is expected to officially confirm those ambitions (and more) when he formally announces his 2012 campaign in Bellevue.
The King County Republican Party, acting as a proxy for McKenna’s campaign, has rented the performing arts center at Sammamish High School (where McKenna spent his formative years) for the announcement.
Actual invitations are supposed to go out tomorrow, but word of the event has, not surprisingly, leaked out ahead of time.
McKenna’s announcement tomorrow will put pressure on Governor Chris Gregoire to declare her intentions. Few in the Democratic Party expect Gregoire to seek a third term, and don’t believe that she could win in 2012 even if she wanted one. The Democratic nominee is expected to be U.S. Representative Jay Inslee, who has been waiting patiently in the wings for months as he contemplates a run.
Meanwhile, the race to succeed McKenna as Attorney General has already begun. In anticipation of McKenna;s gubernatorial bid, County Councilmember Bob Ferguson declared several months ago that he would seek the position. His colleague on the council, Republican Reagan Dunn, has also indicated he might run. It may be that they will be pitted against each other, which would be interesting.
McKenna is viewed by many observers as the Republican Party’s best chance to capture the gubernatorial mansion, which it has not controlled since the mid-1980s. McKenna is far more likable than Dino Rossi, who unsuccessfully ran against Gregoire twice. One Democratic activist I’ve talked to recently about the 2012 campaign called McKenna “a perfected version of Dino Rossi.”
I rather expect, however, that the state Democratic Party will be spending more time comparing McKenna to Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, and not Rossi.
Having been invited by McKenna’s staff on several occasions to sit down with him at his offices, I can attest that he is a far nicer person than Dino Rossi, whose campaign infamously put up caution tape at a public park to keep away non-supporters. McKenna is simply not afraid to engage with people he doesn’t agree with. And that is a valuable trait for a candidate to have. Especially a Republican running in a state that usually votes Democratic in top-ticket races.
McKenna’s agenda, on the other hand, won’t be nice at all. If McKenna’s legal maneuvering on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is any indication of what he really wants to do, the Scott Walker comparisons won’t be off the mark.