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Friday, October 14th, 2011

NPI research prompts Rob McKenna to reveal that he’s a NO vote on Tim Eyman’s I‑1125

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).

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  1. “But the [Inslee] cam­paign declined com­ment about I‑1163 on Friday.”
    So both can­di­dates have been asked about three ini­tia­tives. McKen­na has giv­en his posi­tion on two of them and said he’s unde­cid­ed on one. Inslee has giv­en his posi­tion on one of them. But you like Inslee and don’t like McKen­na, so some­how this has been spun into some­thing neg­a­tive on McKen­na? I’m wait­ing with bat­ed breath for Inslee to “like­ly come out with state­ments” on the oth­er two.

    # by MarcE :: October 14th, 2011 at 7:25 PM
    • Marc, before today, McKen­na did­n’t have a posi­tion on any of the ini­tia­tives. Now he’s said how he is going to vote on I‑1163 and I‑1125. But he only did so after he was pressured. 

      Inslee vol­un­teered his posi­tion on 1125, and has indi­cat­ed he will also vol­un­teer his posi­tion on the oth­er two ini­tia­tives very soon. That’s the dif­fer­ence. Inslee is not try­ing to say, well, I’m a U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, so I don’t take posi­tions on statewide ini­tia­tives (which would be the equiv­a­lent of McKen­na’s excuse).

      # by Andrew :: October 14th, 2011 at 9:10 PM
  2. Well, were that to be Inslee’s excuse, that would be pret­ty asi­nine. The AG defends the state in court. As a Con­gress­man, Inslee does…not a lot that he prob­a­bly wants the vot­ers think­ing about.
    Con­sid­er this me pres­sur­ing Inslee to release his posi­tions on the oth­er two. If he does, I’ll claim cred­it for it, and it will be as real­is­tic as the cred­it you claimed today.

    # by MarcE :: October 14th, 2011 at 11:26 PM
  3. “Well, were that to be Inslee’s excuse, that would be pret­ty asinine.”

    That’s my point. McKen­na and Inslee are both seek­ing the office of gov­er­nor. They should both be will­ing and able to answer ques­tions about their posi­tions on issues. McKen­na attempt­ed to hide behind his office and not say how he felt about 1125, one way or the oth­er, when the Seat­tle Times asked. We point­ed out that his excuse (I’m the AG…) made no sense. If McKen­na can’t com­ment about an issue because he might have to rep­re­sent the state in court, then that pret­ty much pre­cludes him from say­ing any­thing about any issue at all.

    I gave the Seat­tle Times cred­it for get­ting an answer from McKen­na. The Times did the ask­ing. But they got results thanks to the infor­ma­tion we dug up. Read the excerpt I post­ed from Andrew Gar­ber’s entry on Pol­i­tics Northwest. 

    Jay’s cam­paign has already been plan­ning to release state­ments on I‑1163 and I‑1183. They’ve said as much. Jay is doing this vol­un­tar­i­ly. He’s made no secret of the fact that he is most con­cerned about 1125, of the three. McKen­na’s cam­paign had evi­dent­ly planned on being eva­sive through the elec­tion, but even they could see their jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for being eva­sive did­n’t look good.

    # by Andrew :: October 15th, 2011 at 12:25 AM
  4. Well the clock is tick­ing on Inslee say­ing any­thing about the oth­er two while it’s still meaningful…ballots are almost out.

    # by MarcE :: October 15th, 2011 at 10:30 AM
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