Republican Rob McKenna is finally throwing in the towel.
After having spent several days maintaining that there was still a viable path to victory over Jay Inslee, McKenna and his campaign team have come to the same conclusion that we reached when we assessed the race during the last few minutes of November 6th: Jay Inslee is going to be Washington’s next governor.
Rob McKenna’s campaign announced in a conference call with reporters that McKenna called Democrat Jay Inslee a short while ago to concede the 2012 gubernatorial race and congratulate Inslee on his victory.
McKenna’s staff have updated the campaign website to prominently feature a thank-you video from the candidate. The transcript of this video is as follows:
Friends, today we come to the end of a long journey.
Despite the extraordinary efforts of our volunteers, donors, staff, and everyone who’s been part of Team McKenna, it appears we will fall short of victory when the last ballots are counted. After seventeen months of hard work, that is a very disappointing result.
I’ve just placed a call to Congressman Inslee to offer my congratulations, and to wish him the best as Washington’s next governor.
The new administration will face many vexing issues — not least, how to adequately fund and reform our schools. And I’m hopeful that all of Washington’s elected leaders can work together to move us forward.
I’m proud of the campaign we’ve run, of our top-notch campaign team, and of the thousands of volunteers who got involved because they saw an opportunity to make our state better than it is and as good as it can be.
Running for governor of Washington has been a profound privilege, and has taught me much about the people of this great state. It has been a thoroughly enriching and gratifying experience, even though it ultimately has not resulted in the opportunity I sought to serve you as your next governor.
The most gratifying aspect of running has been meeting thousands of people in every corner of our state. They don’t all share the same experiences, or exactly the same views about government and society, or about how we can best meet the challenges our state faces, but they are all Washingtonians through and through, and they love this state.
My supporters among them have been the bedrock of my campaign throughout this contest. Together, we contacted more voters, raised more money, received more endorsements, and had the broadest outreach of any gubernatorial campaign in at least a generation. That’s something of which we can all be proud.
To those of you who knocked on doors, made hours of phone calls, put up yard signs, held fundraisers, and reached out to your friends and family to explain why you supported me, thank you, from my the bottom of my heart. It has meant so much to me, to Marilyn, and to our entire family, and it is very humbling to all of us that you have invested so much of your own blood, sweat, and tears into this effort. I will never forget you.
I’d also like to thank all of the coalitions that came together to work with me to support my campaign and to create outreach into our state’s many varied communities. Groups like Asian-Americans for McKenna, Latinos for McKenna, our veterans’ coalition, Women for McKenna, and Democrats for Rob included some of my most energetic supporters. Other key support came from hundreds of small business owners who expressed their frustrations about state government to me and who worked with me for a day when the state will actually make it easier for them to succeed and to grow.
Those of you in the law enforcement community have been among my staunchest backers, always, and my dearest friends, and it has been my privilege as Attorney General to assist you in making our state safer.
And then there are my friends working for education reform and for a state that will fully fund our schools. You’ll also always have my gratitude. Groups like Stand for Children and the Public School Employees of Washington are working hard every day to make our schools, our education system better. I applaud you for your work, and I thank you for your support as well.
I also owe a deep debt of gratitude to my family for their incredible love and support over the years. Being a public official and running for office — especially statewide — are not nine-to-five jobs. They require a lot of long days and weekends on the road — but my family, especially my wife Marilyn and our four amazing children, never wavered and are always there for me and for each other. I love you all very, very much.
As the year draws to a close, my service as Attorney General is also winding down. What an incredible eight years it has been, both professionally and personally. I will always cherish the friendships I have made in my office, and throughout the attorney general community nationwide, as well as our achievements together on behalf of the best clients a lawyer could hope for: the American people themsleves.
My vision eight years ago was to lead the Attorney General’s office to become the best public law office in America, and we have achieved that goal. To my colleagues there, please, continue working hard for Washington’s people, and please continue being the best at what you do. Our office’s leadership may be changing, but being the best will always begin with each of you.
Many of you may be curious about what I’ll do next, and right now, that’s up in the air. But public service is a part of my DNA, as you know from the stories I’ve told about my parents. So you can be sure that I will continue to stay involved in my community, for example, by working for education reform, in Rotary, through the Boy Scouts, and working in every way I can to create a better future for our young people.
Thanks again to all of you watching this for all you have done for my family, my campaign, and me, and for the leadership you’ve shown throughout this amazing journey. May God continue to bless America, the State of Washington, and each of you.
Thank you very much.
Though the Washington State press corps have expressed an interest in doing a postmorterm with McKenna, the candidate has no plans to speak with reporters, according to his campaign manager Randy Pepple.
McKenna’s concession has no legal significance, but it does represent the continuation of an important tradition in American politics: acknowledging the winner of a popular election and accepting defeat with grace.
In about two months, Jay Inslee will be sworn in as Washington’s twenty-third governor. He is the fourth Democrat to be consecutively elected to the state’s highest office (his predecessors were Booth Gardner, Mike Lowry, Gary Locke, and Chris Gregoire). Democrats have controlled the governor’s mansion for twenty-eight years, and will now hold it for at least another four.
Inslee held a news conference Friday evening at his campaign headquarters on Rainier Avenue in Seattle to celebrate with his team and pledge to serve one hundred percent of the people of Washington State.
Dwight Pelz, the enigmatic chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party, was quick to react to McKenna’s concession.
“I couldn’t be more excited that, after running a fantastic campaign and providing such a strong vision for our state, Jay Inslee is going to be our next governor. Washington now has a great opportunity to be a leader in the 21st Century economy, improve our education system, and build on the state’s incredible resources to move forward,” Pelz said in a statement.
“There is much work to do, but Jay Inslee is the right leader for Washington. Rob McKenna ran a great campaign, and proved to be a very strong candidate in yet another tough contest. But we’ve always thought Jay had the best vision for our state, and the voters agreed.”
“Congratulations to Jay and the great team that helped in this effort.”