Regular readers may recall that a couple weekends ago, we published a post criticizing Rob McKenna for refusing to tell Washingtonians where he stands on Tim Eyman’s anti-tolling, anti-light rail Initiative 1125.
The Seattle Times had just published a story by reporter Andrew Garber on I‑1125 the day before. For his story, Garber had tried to find out what our state’s two leading gubernatorial candidates thought of I‑1125. He got a solid answer from Jay Inslee (the likely Democratic nominee), but McKenna, through a spokesman, was evasive, offering a pretty lame cop-out:
State Attorney General Rob McKenna, the Republican candidate for governor in 2012, has to defend initiatives and can’t comment about the issue, a spokesman said.
I pointed out that non-answer sounds like an excuse not to have a position on anything. I also researched the NPI Advocate’s archive (and the Seattle Times’ archive) and discovered that in 2008, Bruce Ramsey of the Times had asked McKenna and his opponent that year for Attorney General, John Ladenburg, how they were planning to vote on I‑1000 (the Death with Dignity initiative) — and that both candidates had answered that they were voting no.
It turns out this discovery was the catalyst that caused McKenna’s campaign to do an about-face and announce how he is going to vote on this year’s initiatives.
McKenna’s campaign earlier this month declined comment on I‑1125, saying that the attorney general had to defend initiatives and couldn’t address the issue. However, when it was pointed out that McKenna opposed I‑1000 in 2008, he agreed to give his position on this year’s initiatives.
Emphasis is mine.
The day after we reported that McKenna had opposed I‑1000 in 2008, The Stranger picked up on the discovery, followed by the state Democratic Party. And ultimately, Andrew Garber, who does a good job covering politics for the Times, followed up and got an answer, as we had hoped that he would.
While we are very happy to have played a role in spurring McKenna to share his positions on this year’s ballot measures with the people of this state, we wish he just would have been upfront about it when he was asked the first time, instead of hiding behind his office and having a spokesman claim he couldn’t comment.
Had McKenna answered Garber’s question when Garber was writing his original story, McKenna’s position could have been included. It would have added an important dimension to the article. Where McKenna stands on 1125 and the two other initiatives before us this year is important: he’s a candidate for governor and these are issues we’re all going to be voting on.
So what is McKenna’s stance on I‑1125? Well, as it turns out, he is voting NO:
Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, who is running for governor in 2012, said Friday he opposes Tim Eyman’s tolling measure and SEIU’s initiative to reinstate training requirements for long-term-care workers.
“I will vote no on both. SEIU’s (initiative) is not funded, and the state budget has no money for it, as Gov. Gregoire has pointed out. Eyman’s bans variable tolling, which actually is a good tool to reduce congestion and allocate scarce capacity,” McKenna said in a statement.
In opposing I‑1125, McKenna is breaking with the Washington State Republican Party (which supports I‑1125) and with Eyman, who he assisted ten years ago when he coauthored Eyman’s I‑747 with Jim Johnson. That’s significant.
Welcome to the Keep Washington Rolling coalition, Mr. Attorney General.
McKenna did not announce a position on I‑1183, Costco’s liquor privatization measure; his campaign claims he is undecided. (To be fair, Jay Inslee does not have a position on I‑1183 either, but at least he’s planning on announcing what his position is before too much more time has elapsed).
McKenna doesn’t have very long to make up his mind, at least not if he is planning to vote right after receiving his ballot. (Ballots will be mailed late next week).