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, 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

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