Inslee Wants 6 Debates with McKenna in Gubernatorial Race

As much of Western Washington emerges from the morning fog, a clear line of sight between Congressman Jay Inslee’s (D) request for six debates against gubernatorial opponent and Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) and any sign of strategic thought also seems hazy.

In what some are seeing as a clumsy breach of political etiquette, the proposal by Inslee campaign manager Joby Shimomura was delivered Monday to the press before it was sent to the McKenna campaign. The letter described a possible series of television and radio debates held at locations in Central, Eastern and Western Washington and picked Inslee’s poison for at least three of the face-offs, stating the campaign’s preference for two dealing with the economy and jobs and one on issues in education.

McKenna campaign manager Randy Pepple had this to say to the Associated Press:

“It’s hard to take seriously a debate proposal that gets released to the press before we respond, and which has preconditions for the debates,” said Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager.

“Why would I limit it to six?” he asked. “Why would I start from preconditions? We’ll agree to the opportunity to do more than six.”

NW Daily Marker has reached out to the McKenna campaign for clarification on exactly how many debates it would like to have with Inslee, and how many they would like to hold during the primary versus during the general election.

It has to be speculated that an opportunity to pin Inslee down to a minimum of six face-to-face engagements has to seem appealing to the Republican frontrunner. In terms of each candidate’s reputation for verbal acuity and articulating cohesive arguments, the contrast could not be more stark. Furthermore, Inslee’s policy recommendations on all issues seem invariably to track back to blind support for any program bearing a “green” label.

Perhaps Inslee can use the debates to break free from the perception that he has a monochromatic approach to economy recovery, but public debates also offer McKenna an excellent forum to cross-examine the Congressman about his Pavlovian and politically-driven vetting process, one very similar to the one driving the scandalous relationship between the White House and Solyndra.

Although the actual effect of debates on statewide elections is ironically hotly argued, if the contest ends up being close it could be the ground on which the winning candidate persuades swing voters to their side. Currently, Inslee and McKenna are in a near-dead heat in the fundraising battle, and though the most recent KING 5/SurveyUSA poll showed McKenna with a strong 6-point lead (44% McKenna, 38% Inslee, with a +-4.3% margin of error), many observers expect the race to tighten up as we get closer to the election.


Are Legislators in Olympia Poised to Waste Everyone’s Time?

Over the weekend at Washington State Wire, Erik Smith reported that it now appears state legislators in Olympia will spend the next few weeks wasting everyone’s time and taxpayer’s money.

Smith has learned from the moderate Democrat Roadkill Caucus that the issue of enacting reform measures before agreeing to send a proposed hike in the sales tax to voters has created a logjam in the negotiations to bridge the state’s $2B budget gap.

Smith writes:

It is important to note that the Roadkillers hold the power precisely because the minority Republicans at the statehouse take roughly the same stand on government reform. In fact, this week a sign has been posted on the door of the Senate Republican Caucus meeting room at the Capitol: “Reforms Before Revenue,” it says. Only by standing together with the Republicans can the Roadkillers influence the course of the Legislature.

Read the entire article at Washington State Wire.


Finkbeiner Announces Bid for Lt. Governor

Former State Senate Majority Leader Bill Finkbeiner (R) announced today that he will run to replace incumbent Lt. Governor Brad Owens (D) in next year’s election.

In the statement released to the press, Finkbeiner outlined a series of reforms that he says form the core of his campaign platform, including extending the freeze on lobbyist campaign contributions to 30 days after each legislative session, having members sit grouped by district instead of by party affiliation, and other reductions that he feels would reduce or eliminate partisanship in the legislature.

“The gridlock and partisan bickering in our State’s Capitol is unacceptable, especially in times like these. We need innovation and openness in Olympia. As the Lieutenant Governor, I’ll work with both political parties to encourage a more cooperative, less partisan, and less lobbyist-influenced government,” said Finkbeiner in the official release.

Finkbeiner is the only declared opponent to Owens, though other another media source had reported that current State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D) might mount a challenge from within Owens’ own party. As of the latest PDC reports, Owens has raised $41,000 for 2012 and spent $201,000 to secure his re-election in 2008, presenting Finkbeiner with a considerable fundraising challenge as a candidate for a down-ticket office that consistently defies all efforts to define its own relevance to voters.


[photo credit: OneEighteen]