The top elected official in Washington State’s largest local jurisdiction declared today that he has decided against becoming a candidate for governor in 2024 should incumbent Governor Jay Inslee choose not to seek a fourth term.
Dow Constantine, sixty-one, has been King County Executive since 2009, handily winning reelection three times (2013, 2017, 2021). He had previously expressed interest in running for the state’s top job.
But today, in an email to supporters, he declared that he won’t be a candidate if the position comes open next year.
“Not infrequently, people kindly ask whether I would run for Governor in 2024 if Governor Jay Inslee chooses not to seek re-election,” Constantine said.
“Governor is an important office, and Jay is doing great work, day-in and day-out, for Washington State — and leading the nation on the critical issue of climate.”
“While I hope he is willing to continue, he should be given the grace to make his own decision on his own timeline,” the message went on to say.
“But I’ve made my decision. Having given it thorough consideration, I have concluded that the answer is no, I would not run. I’m not willing to set aside all that we’re achieving right now — the full-time work that I’m passionate about — in favor of full-time fundraising and campaigning. I am grateful to serve as Executive of one of the nation’s largest, most progressive, most innovative jurisdictions, and I’m committed to seeing my many local, regional, and national initiatives through.
I’m counting on your continued support to make that possible!”
Constantine’s announcement comes a day after the Northwest Progressive Institute released polling showing that Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a fellow Democrat, has three times as much early support as either Constantine or Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, another prospective candidate. Ferguson received 21% in response to our question, which asked voters about a purely hypothetical field — one that I noted doesn’t exist now and may never exist.
With respect to the four elected officials who appeared in our question, which respondents saw on March 7th and 8th, Ferguson, Franz, Constantine, and Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier (a Republican), I wrote: “It is possible that some of them won’t run — it’s even possible that none of them will run. We don’t know the future and don’t pretend to, so I won’t offer any predictions.”
Today’s news demonstrates this point. It’s a crucial early development.
For Democrats, it means the intramural round of the gubernatorial race is more likely to be a competition between just two major contenders (Ferguson and Franz) as opposed to a more complicated race with three or more credible Democratic candidates vying for money, endorsements, and eventually votes.
I noted yesterday that our polling “indicates that there could be an opening for either Franz or Constantine to wage a competitive campaign, particularly if one of them decided to forgo running, resulting in just two credible Democrats competing for time, talent, treasure, and votes in the elimination round.”
(Emphasis is mine).
Today, Constantine declared he’s out. That’s a big deal for Hilary Franz. It leaves her as the only major alternative to Ferguson. Our team thinks she’s now got more of a lane in which to run, again assuming that Governor Inslee retires… which Constantine, a four-termer himself, seems to be hoping that he won’t do.
We are likely only weeks away from further developments, including an announcement of Governor Jay Inslee’s plans.