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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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