Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Political Desk: Statewide

Washington State has the great ability to put the entire legislative branch up for election. The whole shebang goes up for election this fall, starting with Governor and working down to State Auditor. The incumbents have an edge here, even with the financial challenges that have faced the state, because everyone knows the job they're doing. So the interesting stuff shows up when there is no incumbent.

GOVERNOR: Jay Inslee is a smart, personable Congressional Representative. As a result, he's not well-known statewide and is in the process of introducing himself. Despite this, he's managed to close the polls with his better known opponent, Rob McKenna.

McKenna comes the high profile state position of Attorney General - same as the current Governor, Chris Gregoire. McKenna's got good marks for consumer issues and identify fraud, and is the darling of the Times editorial board. But he's also launched failed lawsuits on the ACA and Superintendent of Public Lands, has had to weather a recent racial scandal in his campaign staff, and is not horribly transparent or willing to deal with non-synchophantic media. Still, he's the favorite in this race.

Which is a pity, because the more I pay attention to Inslee - progressive, pro-local business, the more I'm liking what I'm seeing.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: I've never been a fan of incumbent Brad Owen, one of the more conservative Democrats in state government, and have in the past recommended capable republicans in his stead. This year is no different - Bill Finkbeiner, who is packing the usual suspects for support, plus the endorsement of the Washington Convservation Voters and outgoing Secretary of State Sam Reid. He also supported gay marriage before it was cool for Republicans to do so. (and by the way, the state GOP has a PRO-marriage equality plank).

SECRETARY OF STATE: Long-standing incumbent Sam Reed is stepping down, and his work to keep the election system above-board and free needs to be recognized. He's always stepped forward to the right thing as opposed to the political thing, and this blog has been a long-time supporter. In his wake, there's a couple good choices: Kathleen Drew comes in from the Democrat side, and Kim Wyman from the Republican, and both look to continue and expand Reed's legacy. I've always been fond of Greg Nickels, but I don't see him in Secretary of State. Self-declared Democrat Jim Kastama's idea of bipartisan efforts consists of helping Republicans hold the state budget hostage earlier this year. I think I'll go with Drew or Wyman.

STATE TREASURER: Jim McIntire has no opponents on the ballot. It is not the policy of this blog to endorse candidates running unopposed, but Mr. McIntire has done a good job and deserves an attaboy.


STATE AUDITOR: It is also a great sign of your tenure when the majority of the people that want your job after you step down invoke your mantle. Per the Voters' Guide, Troy Kelly says that retiring auditor Brian Sonntag says "He [Kelly] gets it!", James Watkins says Sonntag said he (Watkins) is "extremely well qualified" and Mark Miloscia says that that he worked alongside Sonntag. (As a side note, Brian Sonntagg has not endorsed any candidate at the present time).

Craig Pridemore doesn't claim anything of the mantle, so I'm going to go with him for the Primary - None of these guys are politically scary, and I reserve the right to change my mind before the general.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: Two candidates here that should go on - Bob Ferguson and Reagan Dunn. The third candidate lists himself as an author, which always gets my interest - until I discover his book is a self-published conspiracy tome for the "Birther Movement".

So, two candidates. Both Ferguson and Dunn are on the King County Council, which makes comparison easier. Ferguson has a rep for showing up and getting the job done, whereas Dunn is more sporadic in attendance and jumps ship soon after the meeting start. Go with Bob Ferguson.

COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC LANDS: Peter J. Goldmark, a rancher from Eastern Washington, has done a fine job, including standing up to Attorney General (and Gubernatorial candidate) Rob McKenna, and winning.

SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: Randy Dorn came in on the concern about the WASL tests and has enacted reforms. Yeah, he's done the job.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: And the same can be said for Mike Kreidler. Has done the job.

Next up, we get local. More later,