McKenna: Slick campaigner, failure as a politician

Current Attorney General and gubernatorial wannabe Rob McKenna is feeling the heat over an early December AP piece showing the “State payouts up threefold under [him]”:

During his 2004 campaign for attorney general, Rob McKenna vowed that he would use the position to curb how much state agencies pay out for major lawsuits. Instead, those costs have grown rapidly under his watch.

Today’s TNT has a letter defending McKenna from Rob Costello, a deputy AG, and Howard Fischer, a senior assistant AG:

The Washington attorney general and the men and women of the Attorney General’s Office who defend the state in lawsuit deserve a more balanced telling of the story regarding lawsuit payouts than they received in this Associated Press article.

They go on to blame it on the legislature that eliminated immunity to lawsuits…in 1961. I don’t think so. A non-immunity bill passed before Rob McKenna was conceived could be used to explain a higher lawsuit burden in Washington compared to states with immunity provisions, but not the three-fold increase under McKenna since he was elected in 2004.

But that isn’t what caught my eye. This is (emphasis added):

In 2004, as a candidate for attorney general, Rob McKenna promised to reduce lawsuits by seeking reforms to state liability laws. If any significant savings are to be achieved, this is absolutely the right place to look, and McKenna has consistently done so. He has worked to inform legislators and has repeatedly invited the Legislature to revisit and reform state tort laws. Every major proposal, however, was killed in committee.

Two points. First Rob McKenna didn’t keep his 2004 promise. He had grand ideas about what an agent of change he could be, and he engaged in some slick campaigning to let everyone know. But he failed to live up to his promises. Perhaps I am being unfair…I mean, McKenna didn’t have complete control over it. He had to work with the Legislature. On the other hand, he knew he would have to work with the Legislature when he made the promise.

The second point. McKenna failed to succeed in working with the Legislature. Keeping his promise required him to be highly skillful in working with the legislative and executive branches. It required him to go beyond being a slick campaigner to actually get something he promised done. He couldn’t and he didn’t. He failed as a politician.

And now he wants to be Governor?

Remember this when he makes slick promises that sound too good to be true.

Either he hasn’t thought through what he must do to make it happen, or he isn’t a skillful enough politician to see it through.


  1. 1


    Conservatives want to prevent people from suing private business concerns. They have no compunction about suing the government (i.e., taxpayers)for wrongs both real and imagined.

    Stefan Sharkansky is a case in point.

  2. 2

    Michael spews:

    Weird. I just tried to open HA and got redirected to Paypal. I don’t use Paypal, so it probably wasn’t something in my system. After shutting down Safari and trying again HA popped right up.

  3. 3

    Brenda Helverson spews:

    Either he hasn’t thought through what he must do to make it happen, or he isn’t a skillful enough politician to see it through.

    Well, maybe. Or maybe he is such a craven liar that he will say whatever is necessary to get elected.

  4. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Well whaddya know, the Robster is just another empty-suit Republican blowhard who can’t deliver the goods — where have we seen this movie before?

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @1 “Stefan Sharkansky is a case in point.”

    Ah yes, that guy who had no compunctions about getting a single-mom waitress fired from her job for trying to get Stefan’s rowdy get to quiet down in a public restaurant, also had no conscience about taking King County taxpayers on a $225,000 ride to make, er, what was the point he was trying to make?

  6. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 Probably a scheme by either the GOP or Hezbollah to rip you off. Doesn’t matter which, because nobody can tell the difference between them anyway. They’re both terrorist organizations.*

    * Heh, just kidding, I’m audience-testing a wingnut-style joke.

  7. 9

    SJ spews:

    I take it you think Rod McKebba gas been a really good AG?

    Can you tell me why you think that? How has he improved WASTATE?

    Whioe you are at it ….. why do we elect AGs? Shouldn’t we outsource this to a private firm?

  8. 10


    re 8: Yes a real failure…An Attorney, An Attorney General, and soo to be governor. A real failure he is Yup!

    So, I take it that attaining a position is your definition of success.

  9. 11

    rhp6033 spews:

    Well, part of me is sympathetic. After all, bad cases can equal bad results, not matter how good the lawyer. I’d like to take a hard look at the cases first. Were these cases he settled when he should have tried, or were there cases he tried when he should have settled?

    Either way, though, it was an empty promise to cut payouts based on legislative action over which he had no control.