Making good on her promise last week to “watch this space,” Washington State’s Democratic Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz today entered the 2024 gubernatorial contest with a press release, video, and campaign website.
Franz will be competing with fellow statewide officeholder Attorney General Bob Ferguson to succeed current Governor Jay Inslee, who announced last week he’ll leave office when his third term is complete in January 2025.
“I’m running for Governor of Washington State,” said Franz.
“My office has been on the front lines of our changing world. I know what it means to take bold risks to make big progress because there isn’t time to wait. We’re facing many challenges, but we can tackle them, together.”
“My grandparents were cattle ranchers in Pierce County,” Franz explains on her campaign website. “My sister and I grew up in Portland, raised by a single father. My dad was a do-or-die union guy who took great pride in serving the community. After school, I would visit him at the fire station where he worked. It was there I learned about dedication and purpose. These heroes taught me that progress comes from working together and putting people first.”
In both her launch video and on her website, Franz specifically mentions the climate crisis and the housing crisis as top issues she’s focused on making progress. Franz has won praise and plaudits from across the political spectrum in securing investments for fighting wildfires and obtaining better data to understand the threat of geological hazards like tsunamis, earthquakes, and lahars.
The word “education” doesn’t appear on her “Meet Hilary” page, though Washington’s next governor is almost certainly going to be confronting a school funding crisis too, especially considering that the 2023 Legislature and Governor Inslee opted not to create a biennial budget that provides enough resources to protect our school districts from destructive cuts and austerity measures.
Unlike Ferguson, Franz did not unveil a lengthy list of early endorsements at the outset of her campaign, though presumably she will begin sharing endorsements down the road. She has an announcement event planned for next Monday.
Here’s her launch video, which is centered on her maxim of “do epic”:
Ferguson’s tenure in the executive department (which consists of nine statewide elected officials) dates back to 2013, while Franz’s dates back to 2017.
Ferguson prevailed over Republican Reagan Dunn to become Attorney General in 2012; Franz emerged out of a crowded field for Commissioner of Public Lands in 2016 to win that position, defeating Republican Steve McLaughlin.
Ferguson faced no Republican opposition in 2016, the first time he sought reelection. In 2020, both Ferguson and Franz chose to run for reelection to their current positions rather than run for governor, after Jay Inslee switched from running for President of the United States to seeking a third term as the state’s chief executive. Against Republican Matt Larkin, Ferguson earned 56.43% of the vote. Against Republican Sue Kuehl Pederson, Franz earned 56.69% of the vote.
Also in the 2024 race are Republicans Semi Bird and Raul Garcia, who have little name recognition and face steep odds. Washington hasn’t elected a Republican to the governor’s office since 1980, an epoch ago in state and national politics.
Garcia, a Yakima doctor and 2020 gubernatorial contender who was eclipsed by Loren Culp, just filed campaign paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission.
Not running in 2024 are County Executives Bruce Dammeier and Dow Constantine. Dammeier, a Republican, is the current Executive of Pierce County, while Constantine, a Democrat, is the current Executive of King County.
Dammeier and Constantine were part of a hypothetical gubernatorial field we polled on about two months ago in our winter statewide survey. Dammeier was the only Republican in the poll and received 35%, which is the same as what Jaime Herrera Beutler got in a theoretical matchup against Maria Cantwell and what we believe in any Republican could get in a head-to-head contest.
Constantine got 7%, tying with Hilary Franz and trailing Ferguson, who got 21%.
In a few weeks, our next statewide seasonal poll will go into the field, and we’ll be able to ask about an actual field of candidates rather than a hypothetical one, which is exciting. The results of that survey will be released right here on the Cascadia Advocate. So, like Hilary Franz said last week… watch this space!