Bob Ferguson speaking at campaign dinner in Pierce County
Attorney General Bob Ferguson addresses a large room of supporters at the Tacoma Convention Center a few days before the November 2022 midterms (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

A long­time Repub­li­can oper­a­tive with a his­to­ry of fil­ing cam­paign finance com­plaints against Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates and PACs today fin­ished orches­trat­ing the eleventh hour fil­ing of two peo­ple who are iden­ti­fy­ing them­selves iden­ti­cal­ly to the lead­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date for Gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton State, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Ferguson.

As a con­se­quence, the list of can­di­dates run­ning for Gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton State this year now includes three Bob Fer­gu­sons — the one who’s a seri­ous can­di­date and two pre­tenders. The two pre­tenders claim to be Democ­rats, hav­ing spec­i­fied a par­ty pref­er­ence of “Demo­c­ra­t­ic” in their paper­work, but no true Demo­c­rat would ever con­sent to being part of a dis­gust­ing and pos­si­bly crim­i­nal scheme to con­fuse and mis­lead voters.

The oper­a­tive, Glen Mor­gan, quick­ly vol­un­teered that this is his doing. 

“Yes, I am the vol­un­teer cam­paign man­ag­er for two of the Bob Fer­gu­sons run­ning for Gov­er­nor,” he snick­ered in a post pub­lished to Face­book one minute before 5 PM. “They are both supe­ri­or in every way to the AG run­ning for the same office, and I believe they can pro­vide bet­ter choic­es for the Democ­rats in our state for that office.”

That’s com­plete and utter non­sense, of course. The osten­si­ble con here is to siphon sup­port away from a can­di­date that Mor­gan intense­ly dis­likes so that he does­n’t make it through to the gen­er­al elec­tion in Novem­ber by try­ing to insti­gate a lot of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vote-split­ting. This is mere­ly the lat­est in a long and rapid­ly grow­ing list of Repub­li­can dirty tricks.

There are sev­er­al dozen peo­ple named Robert Fer­gu­son on Wash­ing­ton State’s vot­er rolls, accord­ing to a search of state records by NPI staff. 

Until today, only one of them was a can­di­date for statewide office. 

Mor­gan admit­ted to The Seat­tle Times’ Claire With­y­combe that he was hop­ing to get even more “Bob Fer­gu­sons” signed up to run as fake Democ­rats, com­ment­ing: “If I had start­ed a lit­tle bit ear­li­er, I would have been able to have six Bob Fer­gu­sons… I con­tact­ed about twelve. I just ran out of time.”

When With­y­combe asked Mor­gan to pro­vide the con­tact infor­ma­tion for the two Fer­gu­sons he recruit­ed, he refused. 

The two pre­tenders have been award­ed the sec­ond and third spots on the August Top Two bal­lot, while Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son received the thir­teenth spot in the state’s bal­lot place­ment lot­tery, which is held short­ly after the close of filing. 

Wash­ing­ton State elec­tions law states express­ly that it is a felony — yes, a felony — to file a dec­la­ra­tion of can­di­da­cy for any pub­lic 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.” Here’s the applic­a­ble RCW:

RCW 29A.84.320

Dupli­cate, nonex­is­tent, untrue names — Penalty.

A per­son is guilty of a class B felony pun­ish­able accord­ing to chap­ter 9A.20 RCW who files a dec­la­ra­tion of can­di­da­cy for any pub­lic office of:

(1) A nonex­is­tent or fic­ti­tious per­son; or

(2) The name of any per­son not his or her true name; or

(3) A name sim­i­lar to that of an incum­bent seek­ing reelec­tion to the same office with intent to con­fuse and mis­lead the elec­tors by tak­ing advan­tage of the pub­lic rep­u­ta­tion of the incum­bent; or

(4) 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.

The max­i­mum penal­ty for a class B felony com­mit­ted after July 1st, 1984 is “con­fine­ment in a state cor­rec­tion­al insti­tu­tion for a term of ten years, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of twen­ty thou­sand dol­lars, or by both such con­fine­ment and fine.” 

Let’s con­sid­er the evi­dence in this case:

  • Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son declared last year that he would be a can­di­date for Gov­er­nor, prompt­ly filed paper­work there­after to run for Gov­er­nor with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion, and sub­mit­ted his dec­la­ra­tion of can­di­da­cy on Mon­day of this week — the first day of fil­ing. He had def­i­nite­ly “pre­vi­ous­ly filed.”
  • Repub­li­can oper­a­tive Glen Mor­gan has admit­ted in pub­lic state­ments that he sought out peo­ple with “a sur­name sim­i­lar to one who has already filed for the same office, and whose polit­i­cal rep­u­ta­tion is wide­ly known” to run against Ferguson. 
  • Not only did these oth­er Robert Fer­gu­sons iden­ti­fy them­selves as “Bob” in their dec­la­ra­tions of can­di­da­cy and file after Attor­ney Gen­er­al Fer­gu­son did, but they also iden­ti­fied them­selves as “prefers Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty.” That’s extra­or­di­nar­i­ly telling, demon­strat­ing an intent to “con­fuse and mis­lead the electors.” 

I don’t prac­tice crim­i­nal law, but I believe a strong case can be made, based on the evi­dence, that these two indi­vid­u­als have com­mit­ted a felony facil­i­tat­ed by Glen Morgan. 

Judg­ing by the com­ments on Mor­gan’s Face­book post, his lit­tle right wing fan club thinks this is bril­liant and hilar­i­ous. But will they still be laugh­ing if Mor­gan’s recruits, and pos­si­bly Mor­gan him­self, get charged with law­break­ing? And lat­er, get convicted? 

I can eas­i­ly pic­ture Repub­li­can PCOs and activists be quiv­er­ing with rage and cry­ing foul if Democ­rats had tried to recruit a bunch of David Reicherts to run for governor. 

Are promi­nent Repub­li­cans going to con­demn this seem­ing­ly ille­gal chicanery? 

Reichert, Drew Stokes­bary, John Braun, for­mer Gov­er­nor Dan Evans, what say you?

(It appears State Repub­li­can Par­ty Chair Jim Walsh — who is a bud­dy of Mor­gan’s and recent­ly appeared along­side him to pitch Walsh and Bri­an Hey­wood’s I‑2117 on Seat­tle Chan­nel — is okay with this. Claire With­y­combe reached him for com­ment and it does­n’t sound like he has a prob­lem with Mor­gan’s behav­ior at all. That’s not surprising.) 

What makes this absurd sit­u­a­tion even more odd and unprece­dent­ed is that the state’s chief law enforce­ment offi­cer is the tar­get of this pos­si­bly crim­i­nal behavior.

These real­ly are strange and absurd times that we’re liv­ing in.

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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4 Comments

  1. Repub­li­cans are lit­er­al­ly so out of touch and have such abhor­rent poli­cies that this is their avenue to attempt gain­ing office. This is maga cancer.

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