Elections

King County Executive Dow Constantine has decided against running for governor in 2024

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.

King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine (Cam­paign pub­lic­i­ty photo)

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.

Andrew Villeneuve

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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