Gubernatorial candidate Bob Ferguson smiles at a press conference
Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the frontrunner in this year's race for governor, smiles during a lighter moment at a press conference held this morning at Kerry Park in Seattle calling on two rival Robert Fergusons to withdraw from the gubernatorial race (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The 2024 Wash­ing­ton State Top Two bal­lot is back to hav­ing just one Bob Ferguson!

Two men named Robert Fer­gu­son who were recruit­ed by a crooked Repub­li­can oper­a­tive named Glen Mor­gan to dupe vot­ers and dam­age the 2024 Demo­c­ra­t­ic fron­trun­ner’s elec­toral prospects have backed out of Mor­gan’s ille­gal scheme by with­draw­ing their can­di­da­cies ahead of today’s 5 PM dead­line to can­cel a filing.

It is a Class B felony in Wash­ing­ton State to file for office with “[a] sur­name sim­i­lar to one who has already filed for the same office, and whose polit­i­cal rep­u­ta­tion is wide­ly known, with intent to con­fuse and mis­lead the elec­tors by cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the pub­lic rep­u­ta­tion of the can­di­date who had pre­vi­ous­ly filed.”

Those oth­er Robert Fer­gu­sons might not have known that, but they erred bad­ly by agree­ing to allow Glen Mor­gan — who has a long his­to­ry of try­ing to harass Democ­rats — to file dec­la­ra­tions of can­di­da­cy for them.

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son’s cam­paign made sure they were aware of the pos­si­ble con­se­quences of their con­duct by send­ing each a cease and desist let­ter over the week­end. Robert Fer­gu­son of Gra­ham acknowl­edged in a sulky state­ment sup­pos­ed­ly not writ­ten by Mor­gan that he had received and read the let­ter and that it influ­enced his deci­sion. He was the first to with­draw, in mid-afternoon.

Short­ly before 5 PM, Robert Fer­gu­son of Yaki­ma fol­lowed suit and with­drew his can­di­da­cy as well. With­in an hour, a sim­i­lar­ly whiny post­ing appeared, attrib­uted to him, in which he claimed “a dream of mine was destroyed.”

“I had a polit­i­cal plat­form and pol­i­cy posi­tions that would have giv­en Democ­rats a bet­ter choice than our State’s law­less AG could ever pro­vide,” the post­ing attrib­uted to Fer­gu­son of Yaki­ma went on to say.

“I’m sor­ry I’ve been ille­gal­ly denied this oppor­tu­ni­ty to live my dream and share these with the pub­lic, but I’m retired, wid­owed, and need to pay my rent. There was no way I could afford the legal costs nec­es­sary to defeat the mas­sive threat­en­ing pow­er of the state, the bil­lion­aires or the oth­er rich elite who clear­ly enjoy hurt­ing us.”

The Fer­gu­son of Yaki­ma with­draw­al state­ment explic­it­ly refers to the Fer­gu­son of Gra­ham with­draw­al state­ment. Both state­ments have a defi­ant, sullen tone, and cast their sup­posed authors as vic­tims of a pow­er­ful polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment. Nei­ther express­es any remorse for hav­ing par­tic­i­pat­ed in an ille­gal scheme to dupe voters.

Mor­gan appears to have been involved in writ­ing, edit­ing, and pub­lish­ing each state­ment, which is iron­i­cal­ly even more evi­dence that he was pulling the strings and the two Fer­gu­sons were just pawns in a game that he was playing.

If either of these Fer­gu­sons tru­ly want­ed to run for gov­er­nor, they could have reg­is­tered with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion and start­ed run­ning at any time. But they did not. They only filed because Glen Mor­gan recruit­ed them to mess with Bob Fer­gu­son’s cam­paign. Mor­gan pub­licly admit­ted to this on Fri­day. He also said that he was hop­ing to find even more peo­ple named Robert Fer­gu­son to run for governor.

“I think these folks were duped into this,” the Attor­ney Gen­er­al said of the oth­er Fer­gu­sons this morn­ing at a press con­fer­ence urg­ing them to with­draw. “I have no ill will [towards] them. I do not want them pros­e­cut­ed. Right now, the focus of what we’re try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate is to those indi­vid­u­als to with­draw by five o’clock.”

“If they do that, and by the way, I want to be very clear if they do that, I’ll be very clear pub­licly that they should not be pros­e­cut­ed. Okay? If any­one starts an inves­ti­ga­tion, I’ll com­mu­ni­cate [with] them. I do not want them pros­e­cut­ed. I do not want them inves­ti­gat­ed,” he said, adding a lit­tle lat­er: “Glen Mor­gan’s a dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion for a dif­fer­ent time; he’s just not my focus right now.”

Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs, who was faced with pos­si­bly hav­ing to add descrip­tors to the can­di­dates’ names and alter the bal­lot order to address con­fu­sion, issued a state­ment observ­ing that the two pre­tenders had with­drawn and empha­siz­ing that his office had been pre­pared to deal with the con­se­quences had they not done so.

“Instances of peo­ple fil­ing for office with names sim­i­lar to well-known office­hold­ers go back near­ly a cen­tu­ry in Wash­ing­ton and oth­er states,” Hobbs said. “That is noth­ing new. We know how to address such issues as elec­tions officials.”

“Vot­ers deserve good-faith can­di­dates who are run­ning on the strength of their ideas to make Wash­ing­ton a bet­ter place to live and work, not peo­ple who pay a fil­ing fee just to manip­u­late elec­tions,” Hobbs added. “Washington’s long his­to­ry of free and fair elec­tions must be pro­tect­ed and pre­served in every year and cam­paign cycle.”

Glen Mor­gan is as sleazy and dis­hon­est as they come, so it’s hard to assess what he was hop­ing to get out of the game he was play­ing. Some folks in Repub­li­can cir­cles were pre­dict­ing that Mor­gan’s Fer­gu­sons would with­draw even before Attor­ney Gen­er­al Fer­gu­son’s guber­na­to­r­i­al cam­paign had said or done any­thing in response, and under­stand­ably won­der­ing, what’s the point of all of this.

That’s a ques­tion that even more Repub­li­cans will now like­ly be ask­ing in the days ahead. Thanks to Mor­gan, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son received a large amount of media cov­er­age, to the annoy­ance of Dave Reichert’s cam­paign, while Mor­gan him­self is now at risk of becom­ing the tar­get of a crim­i­nal investigation.

Not only is there a state law that says it’s a Class B felony to file “with intent to con­fuse and mis­lead the elec­tors,” there’s a relat­ed law that explic­it­ly says it’s a Class felony to con­spire with oth­ers to attempt the same:

RCW 29A.84.270

Dupli­ca­tion of names — Con­spir­a­cy — Crim­i­nal and civ­il liability.

Any per­son who with intent to mis­lead or con­fuse the elec­tors con­spires with anoth­er per­son who has a sur­name sim­i­lar to an incum­bent seek­ing reelec­tion to the same office, or to an oppo­nent for the same office whose polit­i­cal rep­u­ta­tion has been well estab­lished, by per­suad­ing such oth­er per­son to file for such office with no inten­tion of being elect­ed, but to defeat the incum­bent or the well-known oppo­nent, is guilty of a class B felony pun­ish­able accord­ing to chap­ter 9A.20 RCW. In addi­tion, all con­spir­a­tors are sub­ject to a suit for civ­il dam­ages, the amount of which may not exceed the salary that the injured per­son would have received had he or she been elect­ed or reelected.

Notice that last part also sub­jects Mor­gan to civ­il lia­bil­i­ty in addi­tion to crim­i­nal liability.

Giv­en how clear state law is on this sub­ject, it seems Mor­gan just was­n’t famil­iar with this part of our elec­tions code. If he were, he’d have under­stood that decades ago, leg­is­la­tors fore­saw that an oper­a­tive like him would try to do what he did and made sure there were safe­guards in place to deter and pun­ish such behav­ior. He has com­mit­ted a huge unforced error, and it’s left top Repub­li­cans squirming.

Asked by KOMO’s Chris Daniels to weigh in, Reichert’s camp belat­ed­ly dis­tanced their can­di­date from Mor­gan with­out express­ly call­ing on Mor­gan to knock it off.

“In all nine of my pre­vi­ous cam­paigns, I have won with­out any games or antics such as these,” Reichert said to KOMO. “I don’t sup­port any effort to deceive the vot­ers of Wash­ing­ton State.”

Mean­while, Mor­gan’s bud­dy Jim Walsh, the Chair of the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty, claimed not to be involved, telling KOMO: “I’m not inter­est­ed in this whole thing” and then bizarrely try­ing to blame Democ­rats for hav­ing “cre­at­ed this situation.”

That’s an appar­ent ref­er­ence to the law­suit that suc­cess­ful­ly inval­i­dat­ed our old, uncon­sti­tu­tion­al “blan­ket” pre­lim­i­nary elec­tion decades ago — lit­i­ga­tion that the Repub­li­can Par­ty will­ing­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in along with the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

For sev­er­al years after that deci­sion (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), Wash­ing­ton suc­cess­ful­ly used an open pri­ma­ry sys­tem in which vot­ers got to pick par­ty nom­i­nees. Sad­ly, the open pri­ma­ry was dis­card­ed in 2008 when the U.S. Supreme Court — at Repub­li­can Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na’s urg­ing — allowed Wash­ing­ton to begin imple­ment­ing a statewide ini­tia­tive backed by Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Sam Reed that pro­vid­ed for a top two qual­i­fy­ing elec­tion instead, which does not guar­an­tee the par­ties a spot on the Novem­ber bal­lot for any offices except Pres­i­dent and Vice President.

We opposed the ini­tia­tive that cre­at­ed the Top Two sys­tem and still oppose the Top Two today, but its exis­tence does not jus­ti­fy Mor­gan’s ille­gal behavior.

Mor­gan may already be regret­ting hav­ing decid­ed to com­mit a felony and draw­ing all this atten­tion to him­self — and the Attor­ney Gen­er­al he dis­likes so much.

Not­ed one long­time Wash­ing­ton State polit­i­cal observ­er on Twit­ter: “Every­one has been say­ing ‘Bob Fer­gu­son’ on repeat for three days straight. His name got nation­al media. The bor­ing fil­ing week sto­ry turned into The Bobs Fer­gu­son Show. Glen Mor­gan should turn him­self into the PDC [Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion] if he does­n’t report this in-kind gift to the Ferg campaign.”

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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2 Comments

  1. Well, Yaki­ma Bob Fer­gu­son, you haven’t “been ille­gal­ly denied this oppor­tu­ni­ty to live my dream and share these with the pub­lic…” In fact, your duplic­i­tous fil­ing as a Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date to influ­ence the elec­tion was, itself, ILLEGAL. And, you are lucky you were not pros­e­cut­ed for it!

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