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.