Visualization of NPI's November 2023 Attorney General poll finding
Visualization of NPI's November 2023 Washington State Attorney General poll finding (Northwest Progressive Institute)

Next year, vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton will be choos­ing a new Attor­ney Gen­er­al to serve as the state’s chief law enforce­ment offi­cer, because incum­bent Bob Fer­gu­son is run­ning for gov­er­nor. So far, two high­ly qual­i­fied Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates have launched cam­paigns to seek the job: State Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra, a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber, and for­mer U.S. Attor­ney Nick Brown.

We decid­ed to put them and a hypo­thet­i­cal Repub­li­can oppo­nent up against each oth­er in this mon­th’s autumn sur­vey of 2024 like­ly Wash­ing­ton vot­ers to see how the race for AG is shap­ing up, and found that nei­ther Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date has yet estab­lished an advan­tage over the oth­er. That sug­gests that Brown and Dhin­gra will be head­ing into the new year on a pret­ty even footing.

In the sur­vey, con­sist­ing of 700 inter­views with like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers, Dhin­gra had 14%, Brown had 13%, hypo­thet­i­cal Repub­li­can oppo­nent Paul Graves had 38%, and 34% were not sure.

We includ­ed Graves in our ques­tion because we expect Repub­li­cans to find a can­di­date for this impor­tant office by May of 2024, when the fil­ing peri­od arrives, and we’ve heard Graves’ name float­ed in Wash­ing­ton State polit­i­cal cir­cles as a pos­si­bil­i­ty. Giv­en that no Repub­li­can has even filed paper­work with the PDC to seek this office so far, the odds don’t seem high that the par­ty will have more than one cred­i­ble can­di­date inter­est­ed in tak­ing on Dhin­gra and Brown.

If Graves were to run for Attor­ney Gen­er­al with no Repub­li­can oppo­si­tion, our polling sug­gests that he’d eas­i­ly pick up the sup­port of Wash­ing­ton’s Repub­li­can vot­ers. 38% is exact the same per­cent­age that Don­ald Trump and Raul Gar­cia received in our sur­vey — it cor­re­sponds to the por­tion of the Wash­ing­ton elec­torate who reli­ably vote Repub­li­can in par­ti­san contests.

Brown and Dhin­gra haven’t run statewide before, so nei­ther is well known to vot­ers, which accounts for the sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of unde­cid­ed respondents.

Dhin­gra has been elect­ed three times in the 45th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, which includes parts of Red­mond, Kirk­land, and Sam­mamish as well as Duvall in east King Coun­ty, and is a mem­ber of Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic leadership.

Brown, mean­while, has some name famil­iar­i­ty of his own thanks to his recent stint as the U.S. Attor­ney for the West­ern Dis­trict of Washington.

Each has raised about half a mil­lion dol­lars so far for their cam­paign. Brown’s receipts total $497,880.11, while Dhin­gra’s total $500,885.91.

Brown has spent $142,402.72 and Dhin­gra has spent $236,622.08.

There is one oth­er per­son besides Brown and Dhin­gra who has filed with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion as a can­di­date for AG: inde­pen­dent Eliz­a­beth Hal­lock. Since Hal­lock has not report­ed rais­ing or spend­ing any mon­ey and does­n’t appear to have an active cam­paign, she was not includ­ed in our question.

Wash­ing­ton uses a “Top Two” elec­tion sys­tem to decide who appears on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot. As the name sug­gests, the top two vote get­ting can­di­dates advance regard­less of par­ty. It only takes a plu­ral­i­ty to win in the Top Two; the run­ner-up gets the sec­ond avail­able spot. Espe­cial­ly if Repub­li­cans were to fail to field a can­di­date, as they shock­ing­ly did in 2016 for this office, or if they end up field­ing too many can­di­dates who can­cel each oth­er out, it is pos­si­ble that Dhin­gra and Brown could end up fac­ing each oth­er next November.

But per­haps a like­li­er sce­nario is that either Dhin­gra or Brown gets through the Top Two along with a Repub­li­can such as Graves.

Here’s the exact text of the ques­tion we asked and the responses:

QUESTION: If the elec­tion for Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Wash­ing­ton State were being held today and the can­di­dates were Demo­c­rat Man­ka Dhin­gra, Repub­li­can Paul Graves, and Demo­c­rat Nick Brown, who would you vote for?


  • Paul Graves (R): 38%
  • Man­ka Dhin­gra (D): 14%
  • Nick Brown (D): 13%
  • Not sure: 34%

Our sur­vey of 700 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, Novem­ber 14th through Wednes­day, Novem­ber 15th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (42%) and online answers from respon­dents recruit­ed by text (58%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Fol­low this link for addi­tion­al method­ol­o­gy details, includ­ing demo­graph­ic data.

NPI and PPP have worked togeth­er for a decade and have a track record of excel­lence, as detailed in this 2022 elec­toral polling recap and this 2020 one.

Background on the position

The posi­tion of Attor­ney Gen­er­al is estab­lished in the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion as an inde­pen­dent­ly elect­ed office. Unlike at the fed­er­al lev­el, the AG is not appoint­ed by the chief exec­u­tive and con­firmed by the Sen­ate, but is rather cho­sen by the vot­ers. Here’s what the Con­sti­tu­tion says about the job:

ARTICLE II, SECTION 21. ATTORNEY GENERAL, DUTIES AND SALARY. The attor­ney gen­er­al shall be the legal advis­er of the state offi­cers, and shall per­form such oth­er duties as may be pre­scribed by law. He shall receive an annu­al salary of two thou­sand dol­lars, which may be increased by the leg­is­la­ture, but shall nev­er exceed thir­ty-five hun­dred dol­lars per annum.

That last bit about the AG’s salary has since been super­seded by anoth­er part of the Con­sti­tu­tion that deals with salaries for elect­ed officials.

As you can see above, the Con­sti­tu­tion express­ly says that the Leg­is­la­ture can pre­scribe the AG’s duties by law, and it has done so in RCW 43.10.030, which spec­i­fies eleven spe­cif­ic respon­si­bil­i­ties of the posi­tion, includ­ing appear­ing before and rep­re­sent­ing the state in cas­es that come before the appel­late courts.

Because the AG is the state’s chief legal offi­cer, they are respon­si­ble for bring­ing enforce­ment actions against com­pa­nies that vio­late Wash­ing­ton’s con­sumer pro­tec­tion and data pri­va­cy laws, and they are often in the news.

Just this morn­ing, incum­bent Bob Fer­gu­son’s team announced that hos­pi­tal chain Peace­Health will be refund­ing up to $13.4 mil­lion to more than 15,000 low-income patients of its five west­ern Wash­ing­ton hospitals.

“The refunds are a result of an Attor­ney General’s Office inves­ti­ga­tion into the hos­pi­tal chain’s finan­cial assis­tance and col­lec­tion prac­tices. Ferguson’s inves­ti­ga­tion found that Peace­Health billed thou­sands of low-income patients who like­ly qual­i­fied for finan­cial assis­tance with­out inform­ing them of their eli­gi­bil­i­ty,” the Office of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al announced in a news release.

AGs often become future gubernatorial candidates

As men­tioned, cur­rent AG Bob Fer­gu­son is run­ning for gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton. His most recent two pre­de­ces­sors did that too: Repub­li­can Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na ran in 2012, los­ing to Jay Inslee, while Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Chris Gre­goire ran in 2004 and nar­row­ly beat Dino Rossi. (Gre­goire beat Rossi again in 2008 by a more com­fort­able mar­gin in a big wave year for Democrats.)

Con­se­quent­ly, hold­ing this office is a pri­or­i­ty for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, since the next Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Wash­ing­ton could become a can­di­date for gov­er­nor in a future cycle, like 2032. Democ­rats cur­rent­ly hold every posi­tion in Wash­ing­ton’s exec­u­tive depart­ment, which means they have a deep bench of can­di­dates for top offices, while Repub­li­cans have a thin to nonex­is­tent one.

More polling to come

We’ll con­tin­ue to keep an eye on this con­test through­out 2024. Per­haps by the time our next statewide sur­vey fields, Repub­li­cans will actu­al­ly have one or more declared can­di­dates and we’ll have a fuller field to ask vot­ers about.

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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