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).

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

  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.

    1. 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).

  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.

  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.

  4. Well the clock is tick­ing on Inslee say­ing any­thing about the oth­er two while it’s still meaningful…ballots are almost out.

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