Gov. Rob McKenna

While we’re talking about the budget, I’ve got three words of advice for House and Senate Democratic leaders as they ponder their vision of Washington’s future:  Governor Rob McKenna.

I’m as big a fan of Rep. Jay Inslee as any Puget Sound area progressive, and despite some recent harsh words, I’m not unfond of Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, but in my opinion, either Dem would be the definitive underdog against Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna in the 2012 gubernatorial race.  Really.

Sure, I don’t trust him as far as I can spit, but McKenna is by far the most adept politician in Washington state at the moment.  And while yeah, McKenna is totally in the pocket of Boeing, the realtors, AWB and those corrupt bastards at the BIAW… who in Olympia isn’t these days?

McKenna has meticulously crafted a moderate image despite his conservative credentials and his slavish devotion to the business interests who finance his campaigns, but unlike Dino Rossi, he’s managed to do it without coming off like a used car salesman.  Listen to him on KUOW, or even on my old show on 710-KIRO, and he comes off eminently reasonable and rational… even likeable, in his own gawky, geeky sorta way.

But most importantly, he has made a career out of pandering to a political press corps that lovingly felates him in return.  McKenna’s communications people are good.  How good?  When I lost my radio show, his was the only state office from which I received a personal note of condolence and best wishes.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, and all that.

So again, as Democrats in Olympia ponder what to do with their huge majorities during these extraordinary times, I hope they fully understand that their window for effectively using these majorities may soon be coming to a close.  In another few years Republican Gov. Rob McKenna may be setting the agenda and wielding the veto pen.  And if I were betting man, I’d bet he will.


  1. 1

    sarge spews:

    McKenna’s communications people are good. How good? When I lost my radio show, his was the only state office from which I received a personal note of condolence and best wishes.

    Jesus. They aren’t just good, they are unbelievable! They succeeded in getting Goldy to write a McKenna post that was borderline flattering!

    I only wish I had done a better job of sucking up to Goldy.

    Seriously, the Democrats do not have a strong challenger to McKenna. Inslee is the strongest I’ve heard considered. I think he does have a pretty good shot, because side by side, Inslee comes across as a man’s man, tall, back slapping, athletic, type A, dashing…where McKenna comes across a bit…how should I put this…I better stop right there. Lets just say McKenna gives an impression of being somewhat less robust.

  2. 2

    proud leftist spews:

    I’ve heard that Slade Gorton still respires, but Rob McKenna seems to me to be his incarnation. He is an adept politician who has no adherence to principles. Like Slime, he can portray himself as a moderate (well, relatively speaking), but can work up a Republican crowd by giving a wink and a nod so they know, down deep, he’s really with them. Does anyone remember the political transformation Slime made after he lost his first senatorial campaign? He had to come back as a Reagan nutcase to win. He didn’t pause in forgoing his “moderate” credentials. McKenna is no less principled. At the moment, McKenna is touching his privates, trying to provoke a rise, just waiting for his time.

  3. 3

    Seattle Jew, a true liberal spews:


    JOIN the club. I have been saying this for a long time.

    The only place we may disagree is on why McKenna is such a threat. Our guys and gals simply lack leadership at the state level.

    Patty, Adam Smith, Jay, etc. are truly impressive people BUT unlike where you and I grew up, for the most part our national folks simply ignore local politics.

    Gregoire’s talents are executive, not political. If she were talented that way, Brad Owen would not be sitting next to her. We would be using that seat to groom a successor. If she were talented she would be
    appearing as the leader of our effin party in these crisis times .. or is that really Frank Chopp.

    You know how I feel about our District, if the party ere run like a party, by now Jimbo would be ambassador to Chile and Ed Murry would be building the cred to run for governor.

    The problem certainly is not that the Dems lack talent. The problem is abysmal party leadership.

    BTW .. who IS running against hizzoner the mayor?

  4. 4

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    The Democrats have a record for McKenna to run against…and it isn’t a good one.
    1) The Budget Shortfall that wasn’t a Deficit and is now a Shortfall of $8.6 BILLION caused by overspending in the face of a recession while acknowledging it wasn’t sustainable.
    That alone might be enough.

    2) But if it isn’t, there is the State Pension Fund which lost $15.6 BILLION in 15 months and Gregoire sucked out $400 MILLION of contributions so she had more $$ to squander…and now wants to underfund by another $500 MILLION as part of another desperate shell-game that will pass on her excesses to future generations.

    Need any more??
    There are plenty.
    After 28 years of one Party (DEMOCRATS) ruling the Governor’s Mansion, I think Goldy is right…the end is near!

  5. 5

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    You KLOWNS should have let Rossi win this last election…he would have had to make all the hard decisions cleaning up the Dems mess. That’s a huge, thankless job. Then you could have possibly beat him in 2012.

    Now you have to clean up the mess you Dems created.
    Good Luck!

  6. 6

    proud leftist spews:

    Sarge: “Seriously, the Democrats do not have a strong challenger to McKenna.”

    Look, we are Democrats trying to identify the other party’s best candidate, and McKenna is him, surely. When the Rs throw up candidates like Ellen Craswell, John Carlson, and the real estate broker, it’s easy to get a little twisted about the possibility of an R candidate who actually has some skill and ability in the political arena. But, really, our bench is so much deeper than theirs. Jay Inslee, Rick Larson, Adam Smith, Peter Goldmark, even Lisa Brown. These people are stronger, and they have a huge advantage in this state–they carry a D after their names on the ballot.

  7. 7

    Seattle Jew, a true liberal spews:

    More on why Gregoire is running for the GW Bush Award on How to Screw Up Your Own Party.

    three years form now we are all going to be hurting, whatever the legislature does. Hurt ===> blame the incumbents and in this case Din can make a good case of “I told ya so.”

    The only way the Dems can win is by showing discipline and leadership. Put Chopp in a box. Get Jimbo to volunteer to step down. Have Patty begin acting like a Boss (can you spell Magnusson?). Have Gregoire take elocution lessons from Obama and then have her give a soon-to-be-famous speech on why we need to fix our tax system if we want to survive the Bush legacy.

    Hell you think the AG is a threat? Imagine what would happen in Republican Balmer decided to buy hisself the gubernrship?

  8. 8

    Seattle Jew, a true liberal spews:

    @6 Goldmark

    Yep! I agree. BUT what chances are that the DEEP (Dem Party) will do the work to groom Peter for that big a jump?

    I would guess it is 1/100000000000000000000000.

  9. 9

    proud leftist spews:

    Cynical @ 4
    Damn, you’re an idiot. I understand my criticism isn’t substantive–substance is wasted on the pathologically ideological. I just wanted to tell you how I reacted to your post.

  10. 10

    palamedes spews:

    McKenna is very, very good with respect to his image and maintaining it at our level, but do also keep in mind that there are more than a few Republicans both in power (or most recently out of power) and at the ground game level within the state that neither trust nor like him much. There is a definite hunger on their side of the aisle for the top slot, but if he’s forced to tack a tad too much to the left of center in a given campaign, both parties could end up with people sitting on their hands come the election. (Likewise, if he kisses the wrong cheek in public to make those same people happy, it could lose him more than a few suburban votes.)

    And at this rate, the unions are definitely not in a loving mood with respect to the legislative Dems, for good reason. If that set of fences aren’t mended, and soon, the economy taking a long while to heal in this state will sink us in more ways than one.

  11. 11

    sarge spews:

    @ Proud Leftist.

    Fair enough. Before I read your comment I already regretted referring to Inslee as not a strong challenger, even though I made a case for why he could win. But your “real estate broker” lost to a very strong, nationally renowned AG by just a few votes, then just a few points when she was an incumbent.

    Now, search that deep bench of yours and find me a strong candidate to run for the 8th District Congressional seat!

  12. 12

    sarge spews:

    @ 8: I’m not sure anyone pseudonymed “Seattle Jew” can objectively evaluate someone name “Goldmark”.

    Nevertheless, I love Goldmark also, and still think of his win as one of our greatest accomplishments at the State Democratic (and grassroots) level, but I don’t see a viable Gubernatorial run in his future.

    Commissioner of Public Lands isn’t really the most likely path to Governor.

  13. 13

    Chris Stefan spews:

    For the 8th State Sens Rodney Tom and Fred Jarrett look like strong possibilities. State Rep. Ross Hunter is another thought.

    In addition to the names a number of others have mentioned as possible candidates for governor I think Snohomish County Exec Aaron Reardon is someone to watch. He’s charismatic and very no-bullshit. He’s got a good record in Snohomish county to run on too.

  14. 14

    YLB spews:

    The Dems have to show a spine.

    It’s really frustrating that we’re still bogged down here with the legacy of the eighties and nineties.

    If the Dems don’t try something then we’re just a muddling through backwater who’s sold its soul to Boeing and BIAW.

  15. 15

    sarge spews:

    @ 13

    I don’t want to trash Democrats, but, please, I already know of Rodney, Fred, and Ross.

    Fred is an interesting possibility, but he’s only been a Democrat for about ten minutes. Plus, he has told me, to my face, that he isn’t going to run for that seat.

    Rodney Tom (another recent Democratic convert) stuck his toe in the water against Darcy in the 2008 primary, and when it became clear that he had no shot…zip…zero…nada…nothing…nicht…at beating Darcy Burner (who has never held public office), he graciously backed out of the race.

    I like Ross Hunter as a person as much as any politician I can think of. But…he’s no match for 3 term incumbent Dave Reichert, or Reagan Dunn should Reichert retire, and neither Hunter nor Ross have any chance at raising the $4 million entry fee to be viable in this race.

  16. 16

    sarge spews:

    @13: More on Fred Jarrett.

    He has announced for King County Executive. He’s either going to have that position, or remain State Senator. There isn’t any chance he’s going to throw his hat in the ring for the WA-08 seat …late…after a loss in the KCE race.

    Scratch Jarrett off the list.

  17. 17

    Chris Stefan spews:

    Seems like there are a lot of recent converts on the East Side. But in many ways I think it reflects the journey their constituents have recently gone through.

    I really have no idea how realistic a shot Rodney Tom has, I’ve just heard his name mentioned as a candidate a number of times since November.

    I suspect Jarrett is more likely to try for the County Council than Congress. (assuming of course he loses in his run for County Exec).

    Given what little I know of him Ross Hunter has impressed me quite a bit.

    As you point out the real hurdle to taking Reichert or beating Reagan Dunn will be fund raising.

  18. 18

    Chris Stefan spews:

    I know he’s running for KCE, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be a top-two finisher as Phillips and Constantine are sucking all of the oxygen out of the room.

    If he drops out of the race early he could still run for Congress. There are two problems with this: a professed lack of interest and a failed campaign isn’t a position of strength to launch another campaign off of.

  19. 19

    sarge spews:

    @16: Yeah, 3rd place in the KCE primary doesn’t translate into a strong challenger to a 3 term incumbent Congressman!

    I think it is way to early to handicap the KCE race. Jarrett, Constantine, and Phillips are all great candidates, and superbly qualified. Jarrett likely will have solid support among Democrats and Republicans.

  20. 20

    Lauramae spews:

    I was very wary of McKenna’s protege status under Slade Gorton. As a Native (Alaskan Native) person, I have nothing but contempt for Slade. However, I’m happy that McKenna doesn’t seem to carry that same level of animosity.

    I imagine his attention to consumer rights will not endear him to Republicans who see consumers as people who should pay for the crap they sell and like it.

  21. 22

    YLB spews:

    This post has an air of fatalism about it. The Dems seemed to take a middling course from 2004 to 1) consolidate and extend Dem gains in the legislature and 2) don’t rock the boat so much that Chris Gregoire couldn’t get re-elected.

    Well it worked but now with this economic crisis that screams for leadership, we ain’t seeing any.

    It seems the Dems in the legislature are almost resigned to see a McKenna in the Governor’s office in 2012 and wouldn’t really mind it all that much.

  22. 23

    Lauramae spews:

    YLB: We aren’t seeing much in the way of leadership. There are creative ways to address part of the budget crises and instead we’ve seen piece meal trial balloons to see how much it scares us.

    It scares me plenty because I don’t see anyone willing to step out there and make hard choices or call for unpopular changes in the way we collect revenue in this state.

  23. 24

    ByeByeGOP spews:

    Don’t you right wing inbred idiots want Rossi back on the campaign? I thought he was your man?

    Maybe you can get that cum-drunk bitch Palin to come down here and run. Then she can still claim she sees Russia from Washington.

  24. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4(1) You forgot to mention the MAIN cause of the $8.6 billion budget shortfall: The GOP’s reckless mismanagement of the economic that led to massive financial fraud and the Bush Depression. May we assume the omission is, er, intentional?

  25. 27

    proud leftist spews:

    Lauramae @ 20: McKenna’s “attention to consumer rights will not endear him to Republicans who see consumers as people who should pay for the crap they sell and like it.”

    Do you honestly think McKenna gives a rat’s ass about consumer protection? Out of law school, he went to work for Perkins Coie, the largest law firm in the state. Clients include Boeing and so many other major corporate institutions around here; Perkins and Boeing grew together over the past 100 years. There are some–many, in fact–very fine lawyers at Perkins, even some very fine progressive lawyers. But, consumer rights has not been that firm’s gig. Still, McKenna could have received some real-life wisdom had he stayed there. He could have learned what being a lawyer is all about, for instance. But, his heart, assuming he has one, was always set on politics. So, he left Perkins Coie early, went to the King County Council, and then became Attorney General, though he had never stepped in front of a jury, or represented a wronged consumer in his legal career. He doesn’t care about consumer rights, except to the extent that pretending that he does might extend his political career. And, you’re right about Slime’s antipathy toward Natives. His work against Native fishing rights is, of course, legendary. You’re nuts if you don’t think McKenna has the same bone in him.

  26. 28

    proud leftist spews:

    I’d love to see Aaron Reardon run. That boy has some skill in a county that’s tough to govern. Has he denied interest in running in a manner that sounds like he actually hasn’t ruled it out?

  27. 29

    Faceless Bureaucrat spews:

    Lack of leadership? The funding shortfall is so bad that I don’t think anyone could easily resolve the situation. Remember how difficult it was for the R’s in the last mega recession, in the early 1980s.

    Gregoire’s problem isn’t lack of leadership so much as hubris. I would strongly encourage you to take a look at her plans to reorganize state agencies. Yes, there is room for change, but she is listening to the wrong people — wonks from out of state who clearly have weak knowledge of organizational change and possess remarkably tone deaf political instincts.

    This is a great time for investigative reporting. Take a look at how poorly the Dept. of Early Learning is doing. Despite this rolling disaster the governor wants to do a similar number on environmental agencies and create a Dept. of Commerce.

    Again, there is lots of room for reform. But this governor runs the very real risk of screwing things up even more by surrounding herself with highly problematic advisers and refusing to listen to anyone outside of her cloistered circle.

    Pure, unadultered hubris. And what’s most tragic is that this is all avoidable.

  28. 30

    Out of the Closet spews:

    Sarge @ 1

    McKenna comes across a bit…how should I put this…I better stop right there. Lets just say McKenna gives an impression of being somewhat less robust.

    Stop being so Esser-terical and get straight to the point, okay?

  29. 31

    Unkl Witz spews:

    Rob had the fabulous good fortune of running against a Democratic candidate (Debra Senn) who, not only had a voice that produced the same effect on her audience as a band saw cutting through galvanized tin, was by all measures, completely unhinged in her approach to any public office. Hence, regardless of his ideology, he came across as the obvious choice.

  30. 32

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    25. Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4(1) You forgot to mention the MAIN cause of the $8.6 billion budget shortfall: The GOP’s reckless mismanagement of the economic that led to massive financial fraud and the Bush Depression. May we assume the omission is, er, intentional?

    We can always count on Rog to ignore $8 BILLION of increased spending by the Dems and hiring thousands of new State Workers the past 4 years as having anything to do with the mess. Like the broken record he is, Rog is stuck on Blame Bush. YAWN

  31. 33

    Jerry spews:

    You are dead-on, Goldy.

    McKenna is a weasel. McKenna cares mostly about power.

    And McKenna is a damn good politician.

  32. 34

    countrygirl spews:

    McKenna is truly scary. He has an ability to sugar-coat BS that is second to none. For some reason people do not see him as the sleazy character he truly is. Captain of the debate team no doubt. Landenberg was ill-equipped to take him on, firing more blanks than a mafia movie. But being that McKenna’s advantages are purely superficial, Inslee will be a far more formidable opponent.
    However, the greatest hope is that he goes down with the sinking ship that is the BIAW.

  33. 35

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    34. countrygirl spews:

    McKenna is truly scary. He has an ability to sugar-coat BS that is second to none

    You mean second only to Gregoire who has managed to fantasize tax increases and fee increases are SURCHARGES!!
    Now that is scary…you KLOWNESS

  34. 36

    Thor spews:

    McKenna is Slade Gorton in a more prissy conservative form.

    He is a skilled politician, despite his considerable shortcomings.

  35. 37

    Jerry spews:

    The sick, twisted, racist and far-right Mr. Cynical makes Goldy’s point. Beautifully.

    McKenna runs on these populist-left themes. But, behind the scenes, he blows the anti-social dog whistle to keep psychos like Cynical and Puddy satisfied.

    Scary, indeed.

    Dino Lossi was too much of an empty suit to figure out McKenna’s snake charming strategy.

  36. 38


    Gregoire didn’t exactly destroy Rossi in the last campaign despite being the incumbent and an incompetent campaign by Rossi. Despite a solid Democratic majority Washington is open to Republicans at the state and local level if they run a good campaign. Those who stray too far from center get slapped down in a State wide contest.

  37. 39

    Aging Hippies Are Chauvinist Pigs spews:

    If Dems in this state want to hold on to the Governor’s mansion they’ll have to dig deep and somehow find the intestinal fortitude to really confront the rampant gender double standards in their own midst.

    In a old-guard political climate that still enshrines male power and privilege, Gregoire simply has no other option but soft-styled leadership. This basic fact automatically sets up even the most limp-wristed of GOP candidates (Rossi? McKenna???) to appear powerful and commanding before the voters. Let’s face it. Women progressive political leaders who dare to wield power “like a man” are routinely left exposed to the conservative mob attack.