Tag: Rob McKenna (Page 1 of 2)

Rob McKenna-small

Rob McKenna Announces He Will Not Run for WSRP Chair, Offers Words of Wisdom About Choice Ahead

RobMcKennaOne power player in statewide Republican politics whose name has mentioned as one who might step in to take the reins Washington State Republican Party is taking his own name off the list of potential candidates.

In a commentary published Wednesday by The Everett Herald, former state Attorney General Rob McKenna announced he will not seek the votes of his party’s central state committee when they meet later this month to elect a new chair. In the thoughtful piece – well worth your time to read in full – McKenna also gave considerably more than two cents-worth of insight about the direction of the GOP in Washington State.

“While I appreciate the encouragement from many Republicans across the state — and The Herald — I will not be running for party chair. I’ve just returned to private law practice as a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and my professional focus is there,” McKenna said.

McKenna, citing his own career in elected office and the experience of running three statewide campaigns (two successful), also offered three criteria the WSRP could use when selecting its new CEO and standard-bearer: 1. grassroots organizing experience, 2. demonstrated skills in defining the differences between Republicans and Democrats to voters and the media, and 3. an ability to raise lots and lots of funds to ensure that skills defined by numbers 1 and 2 are fully utilized.

McKenna had been The Herald’s early pick for WSRP chair, an odd impulse for the left-leaning Snohomish County daily newspaper’s editorial page, especially in light of recent history when Western Washington media wades into comment on internal Republican affairs.

Many will remember The Seattle Times standout endorsement in 2011 of then-incumbent Luke Esser to keep his seat. Esser was defeated in something of a landslide by Kirby Wilbur, who party members must replace after his early resignation during a second term.

wsrp-logo

State GOP to Elect New Chair on Aug. 24 — Will It Be a Boy or a Girl?

The Washington State Republican Party will vote at its scheduled August meeting in Spokane to elect a new chair, according to a release sent out from party headquarters Thursday.

The 117 members of the WSRP state committee will select a permanent replacement to succeed Kirby Wilbur who resigned Monday, but state law that prescribes the gender of political party leadership could be a source questions about whether the candidates will be men and women or only men in the race to win the state GOP’s top spot.

The Revised Code of Washington states that in regular elections chairs and vice chairs of political parties must be of opposite gender. From RCW 29A.80.020:

The state committee of each major political party consists of one committeeman and one committeewoman from each county elected by the county central committee at its organization meeting. It must have a chair and vice chair of opposite sexes.

The law goes on to specify when elections must be conducted (in the month of January in odd-numbered years) and how state committee members must be notified, but does not specifically whether the gender requirements also apply in the case of filling a vacancy.

In 2006, former WSRP Chair Chris Vance resigned and Diane Tebelius was elected to replace him, but then-Vice Chair Fredi Simpson remained in her position until she was elected national committeewoman. That transition process may (or may not) have established a precedent for how the process works in the event of a vacancy.

Present-day vice chair Luanne Van Werven is currently serving as interim chair and a similar scenario presents itself, especially since sources tell us Van Werven is now making calls in advance of an announcement that she will run for chair.

So, be they man or woman, who will run? Although no candidates have officially declared in the race, many names are floating. With less than three weeks until state committee members will be asked to vote, it seems right to expect a clear picture of the candidate field to emerge by the end of next week.

In discussions I have had with party members in recent days, a number of names have been mentioned as potential candidates, though only two – Van Werven and Susan Hutchison – have given public statements of their interest in jumping into the race.

The editor of The Everett Herald tweeted Wednesday that a source confirmed Dino Rossi is being “pressured” to run, but Rossi himself has not come forward. One day earlier, The Herald editorialized in support of Rob McKenna picking up the reins of the state GOP, an idea most insiders believe is highly unlikely to become a reality for reasons discussed in The Herald’s endorsement.

Other names heard through the Republican grapevine include: former legislative candidate and current Spokane County GOP Chair Ben Oakley, Franklin County Commissioner and Franklin County Republican Chair Brad Peck, former state Sen. Bill Hinkle, two-time congressional candidate and Snohomish County Councilmember John Koster, state Rep. Cary Condotta, and King County GOP Chair Lori Sotelo.

JayInslee

Inslee Ducks Debates, Ducks Policy Details, Gets Goosed by Liberal Press Anyway

With less than 10 months left for Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee to convince voters to make him the next governor of Washington, the clock is ticking for the candidate to reveal details for his plan to run the state, including proposals for the creation of green jobs and targeted education spending.

If he intends to help his party hold the Governor’s office, Inslee will take advantage of every opening between now and Election Day to convince voters he has more in his bag of tricks than a green-painted shovel for government-funded projects and throwing more money into an education system that a panel of experts recently condemned as failing because of a “policy leadership vacuum.”

But ten months in campaign time passes quickly, and Inslee so far has approached opportunities to present his qualifications and flesh out his pitch with all of the enthusiasm of a four-year-old facing a plate piled high with Brussels sprouts.

Though he threw down the gauntlet in December of last year to his opponent, Attorney General Rob McKenna, for a series of six debates (a hyped and premature challenge since McKenna had already prepared to meet Inslee for as many debates as could be agreed upon, potentially far more than six), Inslee has yet to agree to a single debate while McKenna has agreed to two, including one sponsored by the Association of Washington Business that created some campaign news last week.

The announcement by the business organization for a Spokane debate on June 12th despite being unable to get a confirmation from Inslee prompted the Democratic gubernatorial contender’s spokesperson to tell The Seattle Times that McKenna could have the stage all to himself:

“It’s extremely disappointing that AWB would issue an announcement without confirmation from us first,” Smith wrote in an email. “If they want to schedule an event for McKenna, that is their choice, but at this point there is no debate scheduled.”

Curious about what might prevent Inslee from blocking out his calendar five months in advance for a debate he went out of his way to ask for, I emailed Smith and inquired about Inslee’s reasons for not saying “yes.” I also asked Smith if Inslee had received other invitations and had he accepted them. Smith replied:

The question is why AWB feels the need to release an announcement about an event more than five months in advance and before both candidates have confirmed. Jay has already made it clear he is committed to a full series of debates throughout the state and with more than a dozen invitations already received and under consideration, voters can be assured that a full series of debates will take place.

I then emailed Smith again, asking for a direct answer to the original question: Did Inslee have a conflict with the AWB’s June 12th debate? No response was received from Smith or anyone with the Inslee campaign.

As to Inslee’s progress to meeting his personal goal of six debates, McKenna’s campaign manager Randy Pepple offered us his extrapolation.

“Our campaign has agreed to two debates… If Inslee agreed to others I’m not aware of, I have to assume we would be getting calls,” Pepple said. “So, I have to conclude that he has agreed to zero [debates].”

With a dozen or more debate invitations awaiting Inslee’s RSVP, it seems less likely that something other than logistics is the obstacle to his participation. The most solid and public evidence of what may be causing Inslee to hesitate grasping the lectern to face-off with McKenna came, ironically, when the Democrat sat down with two representatives of the “12th man” of the Democratic Party – the Seattle press.

In what had to be about as friendly a media setting as a liberal Democrat could ever hope for, The Stranger’s Dominic Holden sat down with Inslee last week for what passes for an editorial board interview at Seattle’s fringe weekly paper.

Inslee told Holden, “I will be a stand-up guy that will take positions that show some spine and some backbone,” a moment of stirring rhetorical bravado from the candidate that was followed by a long string of vague answers and dodges to questions about the congressman’s indistinct proposals for running the state.

From that point, Inslee lumbered through answers to The Stranger’s questions, exhibiting all of the grace of a pack of vertigo-challenged sumo wrestlers performing a hastily choreographed production of Swan Lake. Holden’s amazing journey into the enigmatic mind of Inslee took them into a conversation about how he would balance the state budget: [Emphasis added.]

Inslee hedged: “First off, I walk a fine line because I don’t want the governor’s contest to make the legislature’s life more difficult than it is already,” he said in deflecting our questions. He would commit to avoiding an all-cuts budget, but the most we could extract about his strategy was his support for closing tax loopholes for Wall Street Banks and generically supporting green job creation. Could he name any details?

I have decided not to articulate more than that at this time,” he said.

Yes, of course, just as I have “decided” not to give the specifics of my plan to convert ordinary table salt to pure gold using only a plastic grocery bag, tap water and a tube of toothpaste. But I digress.

Satisfied by his discovery of an interview loophole, Inslee stuck to his strategy of taking the Fifth:

Would closing bank loopholes be enough (although the state budget shortfall is roughly $1.5 billion this year, bank loopholes would save only about $100 million a year)?

I don’t know the answer.”

To be fair, there’s every chance he was giving a perfectly honest answer that time.

Can Inslee coast to victory by feeding the electorate a steady diet of campaign slogans drawn from Seattle’s provincial activist lexicon? Considering the universal impact the slack economy and broken state budget are having on voters across party lines, that seems unlikely and Washingtonians have a tendency to become impatient with politicians who refuse to even pretend to go through the mating dance.

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[photo credit: WSDOT]

Inslee Ducks Debates, Ducks Policy Details, Gets Goosed by Liberal Press Anyway

LawBooksGavel

Claims of Tort Payout ‘Surge’ Under McKenna Are Dubious, Politically-Driven

As a Republican and the front-runner in Washington State’s race for governor, Attorney General Rob McKenna is going to receive more than his fair share of vetting from the media. The process is justified and useful – it is the primary reason that a free press is a canon of our society’s laws and values – but recent criticism of McKenna for how much has been paid out in major cases handled during his tenure in office appears to be little more than a politically-motivated attack framed around fuzzy math and sour grapes.

According to a scathing editorial published Friday in The Olympian, “Records show that McKenna has not lived up to his 2004 campaign promise to reduce the amount of money the state pays out in tort claims.”

The “records” The Olympian referred to were released to the Associated Press and reported on in a December 6th article that stated, “Washington agencies disbursed $76 million for tort claims last year – three times more than was spent the year before McKenna took office.” Though the $76 million payout figure in 2010 is not disputed, whether it constitutes a “surge” (as The Seattle Times headline proclaimed) is highly questionable.

Lawsuit payouts are a tricky budget item, fluctuating from year to year and notoriously difficult to forecast—a single-year jump is not necessarily cause to sound an alarm. After all, the basis the AP story uses in its comparison – Gregoire’s run as attorney general – contains an enormous “surge” of its own in 2001. But because the AP did not adjust the raw figures for inflation, the truth about how much payouts have increased under McKenna has been exaggerated.

According to the AP article, payouts during McKenna’s six full years in office have been $300 million, “about $70 million more than was paid out during [Gov. Christine] Gregoire’s final six years before she became governor.”

$70 million? Over six years? During a period in which the U.S. annual inflation rate varied greatly but averaged somewhere between 3.5% and 4%? Using those rates, McKenna’s payouts do not fall far off the curve set by Gregoire. Considering the resistance in Olympia to enacting and implementing the statutory and administrative reforms McKenna has sought, some might even say the state is fortunate not to have paid out more.

Aggravating the squishy math used as evidence of a payout “surge”, The Olympian went for the jugular, bringing in Office of Financial Management Risk Manager Lucy Isaki to color in the details. But in using Isaki as a source in their harsh vetting of McKenna, the AP and The Olympian neglected to vet Isaki and provide full context for her comments. In doing so, they shortchanged voters who deserve a complete picture.

Isaki – a former assistant attorney general it appears was passed over by McKenna for higher postings before landing in the spot at OFM, who – according to PDC reports – has already contributed to the campaign of Congressman Jay Inslee, McKenna’s competition in next year’s gubernatorial race – to imply that McKenna’s strategic decisions are to blame for the supposed surge in tort payouts.

From The Olympian:

“[Isaki] said it doesn’t appear that [McKenna] has established any type of creativity or overall strategy for the torts division, such as working with consultants to identify the right cases in which the state could push a sympathetic message and help establish a precedent with a smaller payout.”

In a stunning example of either journalistic cooperation or paranormal telepathy, the exact phrasing above also appears in the AP article, though the AP piece also quotes Isaki as saying:

“It would be nice to see the management of the office make something like that happen, looking at how we can effectively ask (a jury) to think about a verdict amount that will reasonably compensate, but at the same time protect the taxpayers of Washington.”

Gregoire spokesperson Karina Shagren told NW Daily Marker this afternoon that the Governor was not aware before the interviews were conducted that Isaki would  comment on McKenna and tort payouts. Shagren added that Gregoire views the idea of tort reform as a “worthy effort,” but feels that it is not a “fast solution for our budget problems.”

Isaki is, of course, aware of McKenna’s dedicated push for reasonable tort reform, a development that she dismisses as politically improbable but one that would accomplish the objectives she puts forward. Nevertheless, her assessment is not entirely inaccurate – the roadblock created where trial lawyers and Democrats interests intersect is solid. The lack of will within the Democratic power structure to take action to improve things for state government is not McKenna’s burden to bear, but ironically underscores the need for a change of leadership.

Isaki must also be aware of McKenna’s push for agency reforms and accountability for bureaucrats, areas in which the muscle of the Democratic majority in Olympia have not been seen to flex. McKenna’s office has also operated with discipline and professionalism, avoiding multi-million dollar blunders such as the nearly $19 million loss to taxpayers that resulted from a missed filing deadline in 2001 when Gregoire ran the office.

State government does need to get its act together when it comes to payouts, but as McKenna has envisioned, the greatest savings will be made by improving the way government operates and giving agencies incentives to manage their own risk while still serving the public. Voters still understand the intrinsic and positive truth of that idea, even through the fuzzy numbers and the clamor of grinding axes.

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[12/19/11 3:12 PM PT: Original article updated to include comments from Gov. Gregoire spokesperson Karin Shagren.]

[photo credit: perplexlypuzzled]

RobMcKennaKickoff

McKenna Campaign Responds to Inslee Debate Plan: The More Debates, The Better

Washington Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna has an early lead against Democratic opponent Congressman Jay Inslee, but the McKenna campaign has no intention of sitting on an advantage by ducking debates or playing it safe.

Earlier Monday, the Inslee campaign made public its proposal for a relatively modest schedule of six debates, a pitch that also included the Democrat’s wish list concerning the geographic distribution of the face-offs and the issue themes of half of the designed events.

This afternoon, McKenna campaign manager Randy Pepple told NW Daily Marker by email that McKenna anticipates a robust debate schedule and invited Inslee to begin joining a conversation on the issues that he says McKenna has been having with voters for months.

“Rob McKenna looks forward to participating in debates across Washington, and has already started sharing his vision for leading the state with the release last month of his New Direction for Washington plan,” Pepple said. “Congressman Inslee could join the debate at any time by actually releasing a plan that tells the voters how his 15 years in Congress has prepared him to be Governor.”

Pepple continued, suggesting that Inslee’s failure to make public his recent responses to the candidate survey of the state’s teacher union indicates that a head-to-head to discussion between candidates is premature and that Inslee should first explain the details of his proposals for achieving key policy objectives.

“He could even start by releasing the questionnaire he filled out for the Washington Education Association last week, so people can see what public education reforms he has in mind for our schools, and could compare that to the education plan on Rob McKenna’s website.”

Pepple expressed curiosity about why Inslee would want to put a cap on the amount of structured interaction between candidates, noting that McKenna has already signed on to two debates and is enthusiastic about agreeing to more between now and Election Day.

“Why would candidates for Governor limit themselves on the number and location of debates?” Pepple said. “The McKenna campaign has already agreed to debates with two organizations, and in each case we told them they should contact Congressman Inslee’s campaign to secure his commitment.”

“Rob McKenna will agree to more debates than Congressman Inslee will by the time this campaign is over, as Rob welcomes the opportunity to share his ideas and plans with the people of the Washington State.”

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McKenna Issues Statement on Special Legislative Session

On the news that Gov. Christine Gregoire is finally calling the State Legislature back into session to tackle budget woes in the form of a $1.5 billion deficit, Republican candidate for governor Rob McKenna issued a statement, praising the incumbent Governor for taking action and suggesting that a quick and bipartisan process is what Washington needs:

“No one can be pleased with the situation that our state budget is in, but I do congratulate the Governor for recognizing the need for action this year, and scheduling a special legislative session to start November 28.  I look forward, as should all Washingtonians, to a speedy and bi-partisan resolution to the current challenge after legislative leaders spend the next two months negotiating with the Governor.”

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Mixed MMs

Poll in Eclectic Washington State: McKenna Edges Past Inslee, Obama Still Popular

The results of a poll released Monday on the 2011 and 2012 elections may be proof positive that Washington State is still every bit the eclectic grab bag that political junkies have come to know and expect.

Though the poll conducted last week by the bipartisan political consulting firm Strategies 360 found Washington State’s skin is still a reliable shade of light blue, it also gave tell-tale signs that politicians wanting to get in sync with the inner beauty of voters will still need to look below the surface. The survey found a wide range of attitudes among 500 likely voters in Washington State, a bittersweet mix of indicators that Washington has the potential to break for a Republican governor and a Democratic president next year.

On a range of questions covering statewide initiatives on the 2011 ballot, the 2012 gubernatorial and presidential races, the state of the economy, opinions of Congress, and attitudes on high-profile social issues such as the taxation of medical marijuana and gay marriage, the tabulation of responses produces a profile of Washington State that defies attempts at typecasting.

While State Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna came out ahead by 7 points against Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee in a head-to-head question on the 2012 election, in the presidential race, Pres. Barack Obama was found to hold a slight lead over the Republican front-runners Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Respondents also reported feeling that we have not reached the turning point toward economic recovery, and that both the nation and Washington State are heading in the wrong direction.

On the question of where the U.S. is in its path to economic recovery, only 7% said the country had “turned the corner,” with 38% stating that worse times are ahead and 48% feeling that the crisis has stabilized.

State Fiscal Woes Set Stage for Shake-Up in Olympia

On separate questions about the direction of the nation and the state, Washington State fares only slightly better than the nation as a whole in the perception of those surveyed. While 64% of respondents said the U.S. is on the wrong course, 57% said that of the State of Washington, with the greatest dissatisfaction among self-identified Republican and independents.

Consensus on who deserves the blame for the nation’s errant course was also nonpartisan, with the U.S. Congress receiving only a 14% approval from all respondents with no significant deviation based on party identification.

Though Democrats largely split on the question of the state of the nation (38% said the U.S. is on right track, 44% wrong track), Republicans (including McKenna) may see opportunity in the large numbers of voters in relatively blue Western Washington who feel a course correction in Olympia is needed.

A majority of respondents in the regions north, south, and west of King County confirmed their belief that Washington State is on the “wrong track,” and in King County that idea was held by 48% of those surveyed with a significant block (13%) either undecided or refusing to answer. The poll may have captured the essence of a headwind for Republicans in their quest to regain majorities in both houses of the State Legislature, an effort that will require party switches in at least 11 legislative seats, gains that will need to come primarily in Western Washington districts.

The pollsters also asked voters what steps they would like to see taken to correct the almost $1.5 billion state budget deficit and found an even split between a solution favoring mostly spending cuts (40% support) and a balanced approach with both spending cuts and tax increases (44%), but almost no support for leaving cuts to programs off the table entirely (11%). Even among Republicans interviewed, support was split between prioritizing cuts and an answer that equalizes taxes and cuts, a sign that some in the GOP base could be sensing that a ‘cuts only’ approach could slash deeply into necessary state programs.

If the poll truly reflects the sentiments of the Washington State electorate, it bodes well for McKenna who has talked about a balanced solution to the state’s fiscal troubles while Inslee has only talked about stimulus-styled initiatives to use state resources to spur job creation.

McKenna Edges Past Inslee with Crossover Votes

If Republicans in Washington State want to end 30 years of Democratic domination in the governor’s office, McKenna’s cross-over appeal gives them the most legitimate chance to do so.

In a race that many political reporters and analysts are ranking as among the top two hottest gubernatorial matchups in the nation, on the marquee question (who would respondents choose between McKenna and Inslee if the election were held today), McKenna held a 7-point advantage in the Strategies 360 poll, with 46% of respondents choosing McKenna over 39% selecting Inslee.

If McKenna’s path to victory is to persuade Democrats to cross-over (as he has in two statewide elections for attorney general) and independents to fall on his side of the fence, the Strategies 360 poll is good news. Among Democrats, 12% line up with McKenna, Inslee only polls 3% support from self-identified Republicans, and McKenna wins the battle for independent voters (19% of those surveyed) by 16 points.

The raw numbers on the head-to-head race are not where the bad news ends for Inslee. Though both candidates showed lukewarm but positive favorability, Inslee’s name failed to ring a bell with a sizable chunk of those surveyed. Among all respondents, 29% were unfamiliar with Inslee, including 25% of Democrats and 29% of independent. When broken in to geographic regions, the percentage saying that they were unfamiliar with Inslee only drops below 30% in King County, and in Eastern Washington soars to 43%.

The Race for the White House

Pres. Barack Obama still draws stronger approval from Washington State voters than from the general population, with 50% of respondents giving him a favorable rating compared to 46% unfavorable. But the President’s unfavorable numbers were bottom-heavy with “very unfavorable” marks leading “somewhat unfavorables” by two-to-one.

The Strategies 360 poll also matched Obama against Republican presidential primary front-runners Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and found him beating both challengers. The poll reports a 9-point edge for Obama against Romney (49% Obama, 40% Romney) and a 14-point advantage against Perry (51% Obama, 37% Perry).

Same Old Mixed Bag on Ballot Measures and Social Issues

Opinions about ballot measures coming up in front of voters this November were also probed, as were general attitudes on pressing social issues such as gay marriage, legalizing marijuana use, and taxing medical marijuana sales.

On the question of privatizing liquor sales and distribution (the proposal put forward by Initiative 1183), a slim majority of respondents registered support for the measure – 51% in favor and 44% against, but a statistical dead heat when considering the poll’s margin of error (±4.9% for the 400 voter subsample on 2011 ballot issues) and the 5% undecideds.

An overwhelming 70% of respondents reported strong support for taxing medical marijuana sales, compared to only 22% in opposition to the idea.  But on the question of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, Washingtonians are deadlocked, 46% for legalization and 46% against.

Finally, when asked the straight up-or-down question on whether gay and lesbian marriage should be made legal, 54% of the voters polled said yes, while only 35% remain in opposition. Independents still form the deciding block on the issue, coming in at 56% in support of legalizing gay marriage in Washington State.

Conclusions

In a sense, the conclusions of what the Strategies 360 poll means for Washington State politics can only be determined by the results of elections, but if economic issues remain center-stage the advantage seems to be in the Republican court.

The margin of error for the Strategies 360 poll is reported as ±4.4% for questions using the full sample of 500 likely Washington State voters and ±4.9% for the subsample of 400 likely 2011 Washington State voters. Complete details of the poll are available on the firm’s website.

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[photo credit: vernhart]

TwoHeadTurtle

State Supreme Court Gives Conflicting Opinions of Attorney General Authority

The Attorney General in Washington State is independently elected by the people. Of that there is no controversy. Based on two separate rulings by the State Supreme Court today, however, whether the Attorney General is truly independent is now in question.

In one ruling concerning the City of Seattle’s attempt to get the Attorney General to withdrawal from the multi-state challenge of the federal health care law the Court ruled:

“The framers of the Washington Constitution designed an executive branch of government that dispersed authority among several officers.  In addition to assigning certain duties to each officer, the framers left additional duties to be determined by future generations in the exercise of self-government.  The people of the state of Washington have, by statute, vested the attorney general with broad authority, and Attorney General McKenna’s decision to sue to enjoin the enforcement of the PPACA falls within that broad authority. As such, Attorney General McKenna has no mandatory duty to withdraw the State from the multistate litigation. The city of Seattle’s petition for a writ of mandamus must, accordingly, be denied.”

In another ruling also issued today the Supreme Court ruled that the Attorney General has a mandatory duty to provide legal representation to government agencies even if he disagrees it is in the state’s best interest:

“Under the statutes, the responsibility is clear. Because we find no discretion within this duty, we issue the writ and direct the attorney general to provide the commissioner with legal representation.”

This apparent conflict was pointed out in a dissent authored by Justice Debra L. Stephens:

“We say in McKenna that the attorney general has ‘discretionary authority to act in any court, state or federal, trial or appellate, on ‘a matter of public concern,’ provided that there is a ‘cognizable common law or statutory cause of action.’’ Moreover, the McKenna decision rejects the argument that ‘where the governor and attorney general disagree, the attorney general may not proceed in the name of the State.’ This view is at odds with the majority’s analysis. Reading the two cases together, it is unclear why a writ of mandamus is appropriate to force the attorney general to follow the commissioner’s wishes in this litigation but is inappropriate in McKenna.

Consistent with our decision in McKenna, I would recognize that the attorney general’s duty to represent state officers in litigation is generally not subject to a writ of mandamus. While the attorney general’s role to provide legal counsel is mandated by statute, it fundamentally involves discretion and legal judgment entrusted to an independently elected official. The statutory duty is for the attorney general to exercise discretion. This is no mere ministerial task subject to the extraordinary writ of mandamus.”

So under these two rulings, is the Attorney General the independently elected attorney of the people, or merely the government’s attorney tasked with rubber-stamping his clients wishes?

If the first, independently electing the people’s attorney makes sense. If instead the Attorney General is nothing more than the government’s attorney, perhaps the office would be better suited as an appointed position.

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[Reprinted from the Washington Policy Center blog]

DollarRoll

McKenna Raises $150K More Than Inslee in June

The books are closed on June 2011 in the Washington State Governor’s race and according to filings with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, Republican candidate Rob McKenna raised slightly more than $154,000 in the first official month of the campaign than Democrat Jay Inslee.

The total amount raised by McKenna last month was $667,290 compared to Inslee’s $513,000, though McKenna spent $189,767 to bring the two campaigns nearly even in their cash-on-hand at the end of the period. The cash box at Inslee for Washington, however, has $53,000 in I.O.U.’s; McKenna’s campaign is currently debt-free.

According to a press release issued Monday night from the McKenna campaign, $25,591 of their June donations came from donors volunteering to re-allocate monies already given to his attorney general’s re-election campaign fund. McKenna feels that the size of the haul and where the donations are coming from are signs his campaign is generating broad enthusiasm among Washington voters.

“Not only did previous supporters step up to give our campaign a real boost, but the large number of new donors show that citizens want a New Direction for Washington State,” McKenna  said in yesterday’s release.

Inslee started passing the hat more than week before his official June 24th announcement, taking early donations a few days after Gov. Chris Gregoire formally declined to run for a third term.

Who were the donors queued up to make the earliest donations christening each campaign?

Roberta Riley, general counsel of Planned Parenthood of Western Washington is a charter member in Inslee for Washington, giving a combined $3,200 in personal and group contributions. Dunn PAC gave $1,000 to Team McKenna on his first day of receiving.

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