Categories: Elections

Senator Manka Dhingra launches 2024 campaign for Attorney General

Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra (D‑45th Dis­trict: Red­mond, Kirk­land, Sam­mamish, Duvall), a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber, today became the first major can­di­date to jump into the 2024 con­test for Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Wash­ing­ton State, which will be open next year due to incum­bent Bob Fer­gu­son’s deci­sion to run for gov­er­nor after Jay Inslee announced his retirement.

“Wash­ing­ton has nev­er had an Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Wash­ing­ton with deep expe­ri­ence in crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion,” said Dhin­gra, who was first elect­ed to the Leg­is­la­ture in 2017 in an expen­sive spe­cial elec­tion in the 45th Dis­trict and has eas­i­ly secured reelec­tion twice since then (in 2018 and 2022).

“I began my legal career in the State Attor­ney General’s Office assist­ing with Sex­u­al­ly Vio­lent Preda­tor cas­es, and went on to a two decade career as a King Coun­ty Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor. I’ve put domes­tic abusers and child preda­tors behind bars, pros­e­cut­ed gun crimes, and con­front­ed the blind spots in our jus­tice sys­tem to improve account­abil­i­ty and reduce crime.”

“I’ve spent my career in the court­room and State Sen­ate speak­ing out for peo­ple who too often have no voice,” she added. “I’ve led reforms to cre­ate vet­er­ans and men­tal health courts to make sure peo­ple get the treat­ment they need.”

“I’ve writ­ten, spon­sored, and passed laws to address gun vio­lence, ban assault weapons and ghost guns. I’ve strength­ened pro­tec­tion order laws so vic­tims of abuse and their fam­i­lies can find solace and recov­ery. I’ve also secured the nation’s strongest pri­va­cy pro­tec­tions for sen­si­tive repro­duc­tive and health care data.” (NPI worked with Sen­a­tor Dhin­gra to pass many of these bills.)

“I’m excit­ed to take this next step in my legal and advo­ca­cy career, con­tin­u­ing to work for all the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton State as we con­front nation­al chal­lenges to vot­ing and access to repro­duc­tive rights. I’ll lead nation­al­ly on laws that safe­guard work­er rights, hold pol­luters account­able, and address the epi­dem­ic of gun violence.”

Most of Dhin­gra’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues in the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate are sup­port­ing her can­di­da­cy. Twen­ty fel­low Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors — which is most of the cau­cus — have already endorsed her. For­mer state par­ty chair Tina Pod­lodows­ki is a sup­port­er, along with King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­bers Sarah Per­ry and Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci, who rep­re­sent the East­side at the coun­ty level.

In 2020, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Drew Hansen and then Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Lore­na Gon­za­lez also con­sid­ered run­ning for Attor­ney Gen­er­al along with Dhin­gra, but nei­ther is present­ly mak­ing moves to enter the 2024 race. Nick Brown, the U.S. Attor­ney for West­ern Wash­ing­ton, is said to be con­tem­plat­ing a run, but has declined to com­ment when asked reporters about his plans. Brown is good friends with Wash­ing­ton State Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al Noah Pur­cell, who has also pre­vi­ous­ly weighed run­ning for AG. (If Brown does run, Pur­cell told Jer­ry Corn­field he won’t.)

Repub­li­cans have not yet put forth a can­di­date. They could try to field a coun­ty pros­e­cut­ing attor­ney, as they hold some of those offices.

Seat­tle City Attor­ney Ann Davi­son is report­ed­ly inter­est­ed in run­ning, but she has pre­vi­ous­ly flopped as a statewide can­di­date, and if she runs for AG as a Repub­li­can, she’ll have to pan­der to the mil­i­tant, extreme, Trump-ador­ing Repub­li­can base through­out the state, which could sig­nif­i­cant­ly dam­age her stand­ing among Seat­tle vot­ers, destroy­ing any hope of reelec­tion in 2025.

Incum­bent Bob Fer­gu­son will be leav­ing behind some mighty big shoes. Fer­gu­son has had an incred­i­ble run as AG, with an impres­sive record in the legal are­na, the leg­isla­tive are­na, and the elec­toral are­na. He and his team have secured cru­cial vic­to­ries at every lev­el for a long list of pro­gres­sive caus­es: envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice, repro­duc­tive rights, work­er and immi­grant pro­tec­tions, and health free­dom, to name a few. He fear­less­ly took on the Trump regime, ear­ly and often.

Fer­gu­son has also vig­or­ous­ly enforced Wash­ing­ton State’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws, hold­ing bad actors like Tim Eyman and the Gro­cery Man­u­fac­tur­ers accountable.

No one in mod­ern times has done more with the office. But Fer­gu­son would be the first to say there’s always more to do. If Dhin­gra is his suc­ces­sor, he’ll be fol­lowed by some­one who is extreme­ly pas­sion­ate about secur­ing progress and get­ting results. Sen­a­tor Dhin­gra has con­sis­tent­ly demon­strat­ed a first-rate work eth­ic since she joined the Sen­ate, and our staff has no doubt she’d work very hard as Attor­ney Gen­er­al to get jus­tice for Wash­ing­to­ni­ans every day.

NPI does not endorse can­di­dates for office or engage in elec­tion­eer­ing for or against any can­di­date, but we will be cov­er­ing this race over the next year and a half, and polling on it as well. We’ll be keep­ing an eye on the field as it grows!

Updat­ed May 9th, 2023 with infor­ma­tion about oth­er can­di­dates in the race.

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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