Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob McKenna will speak Friday at a sold-out women’s luncheon in Seattle, and an event that will be simulcast to 14 satellite gatherings across Washington State as well as streamed live online.

Tomorrow’s luncheon broadcast from Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel is being specifically billed by organizers—the coalition of Washington women leaders known as “Women for Rob”—not as a fundraising event, but as a meeting of the minds.

It will be another chance during the campaign (and certainly not the last) for McKenna to tap into a cross-section of what has been Washington’s not-so-secret weapon for most of its history, a thriving brain trust of women who continue to lead in every area of government and the economy.

“Washington State has a long history of empowering its female leaders,” McKenna said in a statement Thursday.

“They are our business executives, our philanthropists, our software engineers, and our elected officials,” McKenna continued. “I look forward to sitting down with this group of leaders and role models to hear more about their ideas and solutions to the challenges that face our state.”

McKenna’s goals for the midday event match those of the hosting committee.

“We have an enormous amount to contribute intellectu­ally to the current gubernatorial debate, and Rob has been eager to listen and to take our concerns seriously,” reads an invitation letter emblazoned with the names of a score of notable accomplished women.

With a geyser of ideas and innovation set to a erupt, the McKenna campaign wisely planned not to let any potential inspiration go to waste. By utilizing off-the-shelf digital streaming technology, McKenna will maximize the event’s reach and boost participation by those not able to come to Seattle to participate.

Campaign digital director Matthew Lundh told us Friday’s lunch will be streamed live online in high definition via the campaign’s website ( and its Facebook page, and will be directly simulcast to 14 or more satellite gatherings independently organized across the state, viewing parties to be attended by women coming together in their boardrooms, lunchrooms, and living rooms.

McKenna will also open his bandwidth to field and answer questions and comments submitted on Twitter (@Women4McKenna) or through the Women for Rob Facebook page.

This active outreach to women, and the use of technology and social media to facilitate a richer conversation, parallels the McKenna camp’s plan to engage other voter communities using efficient, cost-effective methods of communicating while spending the bulk of its digital budget on online ads that can be depended on to precisely deliver the campaign’s message. This balanced approach could give McKenna a critical edge over Democratic opponent and former Congressman Jay Inslee, as a July 14 article in The Seattle Times suggests:

While the two campaigns have raised similar amounts of money, the McKenna campaign has spent $103,619 on online advertising during the past 13 months, records compiled by the Public Disclosure Commission indicate.

The Inslee campaign has spent $3,070 — less than a third of the $10,417 McKenna spent on Facebook ads alone.

…Inslee’s communications director, emphasized the campaign’s “organic” outreach through social-media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, which do not eat up the campaign’s advertising budget. …

But high engagement on social media isn’t a substitute for an effective online ad campaign, said Darrell West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank, who has researched political advertising.

Sites like Facebook — on which Inslee had 17,865 “likes” last week compared to McKenna’s 28,371 — can get people talking about a candidate, West said, but don’t allow for much control over what’s being said about him or her. “With online advertising, you have direct control over the message being communicated,” he said.

Disparities in the effective use of technology by Inslee and McKenna are not limited to their communications strategies.

Some may remember that when it came time to file the official paperwork for their candidacies, Inslee chose the low-tech route, driving to Olympia to submit his forms. McKenna skipped the photo opportunity in favor of filing electronically.

Perhaps those kinds of decisions and how they could be part of how state government does business will be part of McKenna’s discussion with women voters.


For more information about the July 20 Women’s Leadership Lunch or finding a simulcast location near you, please contact the McKenna campaign at (425) 449-8244.