Today’s Sun­day edi­tion of the Seat­tle Times has a sto­ry by Olympia cor­re­spon­dent Andrew Gar­ber exam­in­ing the cost and con­se­quences of Tim Eyman’s I‑1125, which Eyman got on the bal­lot using a boat­load of mon­ey from Belle­vue Square own­er Kem­per Free­man Jr. (one of his long­time wealthy benefactors).

Gar­ber saw fit to ask Wash­ing­ton’s two lead­ing guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­dates what their posi­tions were on the ini­tia­tive, which imper­ils key projects like the new Ever­green Point Float­ing Bridge (which car­ries SR 520 over Lake Washington).

He got two very dif­fer­ent answers:

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. Demo­c­ra­t­ic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, who’s also run­ning for gov­er­nor, oppos­es it, say­ing it “will dam­age our abil­i­ty to grow our econ­o­my and cre­ate jobs.”

So, let’s get this straight: McKen­na can’t tell us what his posi­tion is because his office might be involved in future lit­i­ga­tion over the matter?

Gee, that sounds like an excuse not to have a posi­tion on any­thing.

I recall that when McKen­na announced his can­di­da­cy back in June, he spoke at length about increas­ing our invest­ment in edu­ca­tion (with­out say­ing how he’d actu­al­ly make that hap­pen). Since McKen­na’s office is present­ly defend­ing the state against a law­suit which con­tends that Wash­ing­ton is fail­ing to meet its “para­mount duty” of “mak­ing ample pro­vi­sion for the edu­ca­tion of all chil­dren resid­ing with­in its bor­ders”, does­n’t that pre­clude him, under his own stan­dard, from talk­ing about the sor­ry state of fund­ing for our pub­lic schools and colleges?

I mean, we’re talk­ing about an issue that is before the Supreme Court now, not an issue that might poten­tial­ly be lit­i­gat­ed down the road.

You can see where I’m going with this. McKen­na might as well have no cam­paign plat­form at all; any issue he talks about — or is asked about — could end up being lit­i­gat­ed, and McKen­na would have to defend the state if it was sued.

As I said, the excuse offered by his uniden­ti­fied spokesper­son is an excuse that can work to deflect any ques­tion about any issue, period.

What McKen­na is doing here is hid­ing in his office, so to speak. He obvi­ous­ly does­n’t want to go on the record about I‑1125. Per­haps that’s because he sup­ports I‑1125, but is afraid of being asso­ci­at­ed with Tim Eyman.

McKen­na is actu­al­ly the coau­thor of one of Tim Eyman’s ear­li­est ini­tia­tives — I‑747, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in Novem­ber 2007 as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. (The ini­tia­tive was rein­stat­ed — fool­ish­ly — by Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire and state law­mak­ers that same month).

Reporters ought to press McKen­na on this mat­ter. If he can’t take a posi­tion on I‑1125, how can he take a posi­tion on any impor­tant issue?

This cop-out on I‑1125 should not go unchallenged.

POSTSCRIPT: A quick search of the NPI Advo­cate’s own archives, along with those of the Seat­tle Times, con­firms my sus­pi­cion that McKen­na has pre­vi­ous­ly tak­en posi­tions on statewide ini­tia­tives while he was attor­ney gen­er­al.

Here’s an excerpt from a Seat­tle Times sto­ry from 2008, writ­ten by Andrew Gar­ber’s col­league Bob Young, which sum­ma­rizes a debate McKen­na had with Demo­c­rat John Laden­burg at Seat­tle University:

Laden­burg and McKen­na agreed on a num­ber of issues: Both stressed their respect for trib­al sov­er­eign­ty; both said they’d vote against Ini­tia­tive 1000, which seeks to legal­ize assist­ed sui­cide for ter­mi­nal­ly ill patients.

I was actu­al­ly at that debate as well — here’s the rel­e­vant excerpt from my report:

Bruce Ram­sey [of the Seat­tle Times] just asked the can­di­dates about Ini­tia­tive 1000.

McKen­na said he’ll vote against it (although he explained that his office will vig­or­ous­ly defend the law in court if it is passed), and Laden­burg added that he will also like­ly vot­ed against it.

When Rob McKen­na was run­ning for reelec­tion as attor­ney gen­er­al four years ago, he dis­closed how he’d vote on an impor­tant statewide ini­tia­tive when he was asked — the ques­tion is, why can’t he do so now, as a can­di­date for gov­er­nor?

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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3 replies on “Rob McKenna won’t say where he stands on Tim Eyman’s I‑1125”

  1. Rob, evad­ing answers to legit­i­mate ques­tions isn’t the way to go if you want to be gov­er­nor. A big part of cam­paign­ing is con­nect­ing with vot­ers. You may think your pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment ads have endeared you to vot­ers. But no amount of slick P.R. can cov­er up the fact you don’t seem to have answers on key issues. 

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