Nick Brown, candidate for Attorney General
Nick Brown, candidate for Attorney General (Campaign photo)

For­mer Unit­ed States Attor­ney Nick Brown today became the sec­ond 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. Brown, a Demo­c­rat, just left the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion last month in prepa­ra­tion for this cam­paign announcement.

As the U.S. Attor­ney for West­ern Wash­ing­ton (the state is divid­ed into two dis­tricts, West­ern and East­ern), it was Brown’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to bring civ­il actions and pros­e­cute law­break­ers on behalf of the Depart­ment of Justice.

Now he is seek­ing to become the state’s chief law enforce­ment offi­cer — one of nine inde­pen­dent­ly elect­ed posi­tions in the state’s exec­u­tive department.

“No mat­ter your age, race, gen­der, zip code, or who you love, we all have the right to be safe. Safe from crime. Safe from gun vio­lence. Safe from dis­crim­i­na­tion. And live in a safe envi­ron­ment. Keep­ing Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies safe has been my life’s work. That’s why I’m run­ning,” Brown explained.

“As Attor­ney Gen­er­al I will crack down on gun vio­lence head on, pro­tect our democ­ra­cy, stand up to cor­po­ra­tions tak­ing advan­tage of con­sumers, and always fight to pro­tect abor­tion access in our state,” he added.

Brown joins State Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra, a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber, on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic side of the 2024 field for Attor­ney Gen­er­al. Dhin­gra declared her can­di­da­cy back in May. No Repub­li­can con­tenders have emerged yet. Fer­gu­son’s pre­de­ces­sor Rob McKen­na is the most recent Repub­li­can to have been elect­ed to the post, win­ning con­sec­u­tive terms in 2004 and 2008.

Brown is a vet­er­an and alum of Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s office, as his bio notes.

“After his time in the Army, Nick returned home to Wash­ing­ton, where he first worked as a pros­e­cu­tor, and then was appoint­ed as gen­er­al coun­sel for Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee. In his time with Gov­er­nor Inslee, he stood up to Don­ald Trump and his hate­ful Mus­lim ban, and over­saw the governor’s work to end the death penal­ty in our state,” his cam­paign web­site says. (NPI sup­port­ed the Gov­er­nor’s work to end the death penal­ty. Five years ago today, we released polling show­ing that near­ly sev­en in ten like­ly Wash­ing­ton vot­ers favored life in prison alter­na­tives.)

The web­site then men­tions Nick­’s work at Paci­fi­ca Law Group, which has rep­re­sent­ed NPI in sev­er­al mat­ters over the years: “Nick then served as a part­ner at one of the pre­mier law firms in the region, help­ing pub­lic, pri­vate, and non-prof­it clients nav­i­gate com­plex civ­il lit­i­ga­tion and con­sti­tu­tion­al issues.”

The web­site says of Brown’s most recent chap­ter: “In 2021, Pres­i­dent Joe Biden nom­i­nat­ed Nick to become the U.S. Attor­ney for West­ern Wash­ing­ton where he was praised for his work fight­ing drug car­tels and sex traf­fick­ing, address­ing the fen­tanyl cri­sis, and reduc­ing vio­lent crime. He also chaired the Attor­ney General’s Advi­so­ry Sub­com­mit­tee on Civ­il Rights, and brought a focus to keep­ing every Wash­ing­ton­ian safe by pre­vent­ing and pros­e­cut­ing hate crimes, and pro­tect­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble and mem­bers of mar­gin­al­ized communities.”

Brown’s web­site does­n’t have an endorse­ments page yet, but mem­bers of Inslee’s staff did pub­licly cheer his announce­ment from their per­son­al accounts on Twit­ter, indi­cat­ing where the loy­al­ties of Team Inslee will be in this cam­paign. Brown is also a good friend of cur­rent Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al Noah Pur­cell, who works for Bob Fer­gu­son, and Pur­cell has report­ed­ly ruled out run­ning because of Brown’s bid.

In Brown and Dhin­gra, Democ­rats have two strong choic­es for Attor­ney Gen­er­al next year. This could be the extent of the field of cred­i­ble can­di­dates on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic side. Oth­ers who explored a run four years ago have said or sig­naled they’ll take a pass this cycle. State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Drew Hansen is in line to move up to the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate with Chris­tine Rolfes’ forth­com­ing exit and Lore­na Gon­za­lez is focused on her impor­tant work with the ACLU of Washington.

About the author

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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