White House confirms Gregoire on short list to replace Kagan as Solicitor General

What started as a rumor running through the halls and barrooms of Olympia has jumped to the other Washington today, with the National Journal’s Reid Wilson confirming that Gov. Chris Gregoire is indeed on the White House’s short list to replace Elena Kagan as Solicitor General:

WA Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) leads a short list to replace Solicitor General Elena Kagan, the WH has told members of Gregoire’s home-state delegation.

Gregoire, a 2-term incumbent and a former WA AG, has been a rumored contender for other admin positions. But the WH has informed top aides to WA members that she is under serious consideration, according to several sources inside the delegation.

An admin official confirmed Gregoire’s name is one of those being considered. Gregoire endorsed candidate Obama just before the WA caucuses in ’08, offering a helping hand as Obama picked up two-thirds of the state’s delegates.

Yesterday, Gov. Gregoire’s aides seemed eager to quash the rumor, but in the wake of today’s reports, the most definitive comment I’ve been able to extract from insiders today are assurances that the Governor “has not been seeking” the job. Clearly unanswered in that response is whether Gov. Gregoire would consider the position if offered.

Of course, she’d be crazy not to, at least in terms of her own career. Gov. Gregoire does not appear to be planning to run for a third term, and there’s a better than even chance she’d lose if she tried. So there’s zero downside to her moving on to the national stage.

As to the political chaos her early retirement would create here in Washington state, well, that’s a different matter.

Even putting aside the unsettling prospect of Lt. Gov. Brad Owen’s brief stewardship, the political disruption would be immense, resulting in either a cakewalk for Dino Rossi in a special election, or a messy free for all that could leave several open seats in its wake. Would Rep. Jay Inslee suddenly abandon his congressional reelection for an early run at the governor’s mansion? Would Reps. Adam Smith or even (don’t laugh) Dave Reichert? Would WA Attorney General Rob McKenna defer his own gubernatorial dreams in favor of Rossi, or would he try to muscle the two-time loser out… or even risk splitting the Republican vote?

Given the circumstances, I’d have to put my money on Rossi. I’ve often joked about how well Rossi runs in the polls during off years, but a special election with little time for an opposing Democrat to gain statewide ID would be just the opportunity Rossi needs to break this cycle.

Hmm. Much to think about. Especially for Rossi as he continues to contemplate a near hopeless run at Sen. Patty Murray.


  1. 2

    Mary Plante spews:

    I think John Ladenburg would have a good shot at beating Rossi as would Brian Sonntag. I don’t think it is ridiculous to consider Reichert jumping in pre-empting both Rossi and McKenna. He has made it known he isn’t very happy in DC.

    Timing is everything here. A late fall resignation wouldn’t require a special election. A late-May to early-June resignation would require both a special primary and general.

    I think Gregoire would time her resignation such that the state convention could settle on one Democratic candidate to run in a general. I suspect the Rs would try to clear the path for McKenna.

  2. 3



    I think John Ladenburg would have a good shot at beating Rossi as would Brian Sonntag. I don’t think it is ridiculous to consider Reichert jumping in pre-empting both Rossi and McKenna. He has made it known he isn’t very happy in DC.

    Ladenburg demonstrated his lack of chops in his AG run in 2008. Sonntag is at least as much of a DINO as is Brad Owen, though to be fair he may have a few more functioning neurons that the State Rock (Star). As for Reichert, would he really want a job where he’d have to work instead of working-out?

    Where can I write to ask the President to cast his eye elsewhere?

  3. 4

    rhp6033 spews:

    I still don’t see the Soliciter General job as being a step-up for Gregoire, unless it’s just a holding position until another spot becomes open. It MIGHT be a good spot to warehouse someone pending an opening for a federal bench job, a Supreme Court nomination (as the recent example shows), or for a future cabinet post.

    But given her age, I don’t expect her to be nominated for the Federal bench. Those are lifetime appointments, and they are going to want someone who is expected to be on that court or a higher one for the next twenty or thirty years. They will want someone age 55 or younger (preferably younger).

    Likewise, her age puts some limits on the type of position she would want. She can realistically expect that her next job will be the last one she holds until retirement. An important abassadorship, or heading the Justice Dept., would be positions she would probably accept. I just don’t see the Soliciter General job being in the same category.

    From the White House perspective, the Soliciter General job is a valuable spot for an “up and commer” to gain experience and pad their resumes. It’s a bit to valuable in that context to use repaying an old, and small, campaign debt.

    But hey, what do I know? It’s not like I can read Obama’s or Gregoire’s mind.

  4. 6

    Mark1 spews:

    Get the hell out, and good riddance! I only feel sorry for the poor sap that has the job of fumigating the Governor’s mansion. Ugh! :)

  5. 7

    sj spews:

    I am willing to put $30 down on the table and give 2:1 odds that Gregoire will not be nominated as SG. AND, guess what, I am so confidant that I do not think I am gambling.

    Any takers?

  6. 11

    Zotz spews:

    @4 and 7: I have three words for you: Salazar, Napolitano, and Sheldon. All are terrible choices.

    We’ve seen the Arizona fall-out from the lack of a backstop to the wingnuts.

    Salazar, in addition to his strong ties to the energy cos, leaves what was a safe Senate seat in Colorado in trouble.

    Our own Tim (The Other Timmeh!) Sheldon was recently appointed to the Olympic Peninsula Resource Advisory Committee and I can’t think of a worse person to speak for resources of any kind, let alone the Olympics and Hood Canal.

    “…Sheldon joins a committee of 15 members that is divided into three categories which reflect each member’s area of expertise. Sheldon will serve in Category B, which specializes in national environmental organizations, regional or local environmental organizations, dispersed recreational activities and archaeological and historical interests…” [emphasis added]


    It’s almost as if O is intentionally fucking us…

  7. 14

    sj wi/ Edits by Lee spews:

    It seems to me that Gregoire should not becoime the Surgeon General until we are sure we know where she stands on medical marijuana.

  8. 15

    J. Whorfin spews:

    Well, I think this could work out very well for the Democrats long-term here as I agree with Goldy’s scenario with Rossi getting in.

    I think whoever has to deal with the next State budget is going to be tarred and feathered (and by extension, their party). If that’s Rossi, he’s going to have to face the voters with the massive cuts and/or tax increases that the next budget will require. It’s always so much easier to bitch than actually having to make the hard decisions and accept responsibilities for those decisions.

    And as Goldy says, a Gregoire third term is not likely, and there is only upside for the Governor personally.

  9. 16

    PassionateJus spews:


    Sometimes Obama acts like a fucking political amateur! Especially in CO and AZ.

    And then there was the clusterfucks in NY, IL and DE (not all Obama’s fault, but still, as head of the party you would think he would have more influence and make sure the appointments were conducted smoothly).

    If we lose the Senate it’s Obama’s fault.


    I wish Hillary had won. She wouldn’t dream of doing anything this stupid.

  10. 17

    Queen Christine "now is not the time to raise taxes" spews:

    so long governor skeletor….and please before you go, could you give us back that $800 million dollar surplus you promised whas there.

    Thanks in advance,
    The non-lemming voters of Washington State.

  11. 18

    Zotz spews:

    @12 and 13:

    Yep, Sheldon was tapped to speak for the environment of the Olympics and Hood Canal. Speculating, but I bet Gary Locke was queried and signed off. He told me emphatically once at a gathering at the “mansion” that he and Tim were “really good friends”.

    I’m not sure how many Sheldons there are. There’s definitely one too many, though.

  12. 20

    J. Whorfin spews:

    16 & 19: You’re assuming Hillary would have won, if nominated. We could be saying “Vice President Palin”. Try remember that when complaining about Obama. :)

  13. 21

    Michael spews:

    @13, 18

    So does this mean that someone from the Sierra Club gets to speak for the timber industry?

  14. 22

    Queen Christine "now is not the time to raise taxes" spews:

    @15…but governor skeletor said we didnt have a budget problem…she said we gots lots of money in reserves…about $800 million worth…why worry? be happy…

  15. 25

    Puddybud has fun skewering Libtardos spews:


    It’s almost as if O is intentionally fucking us…

    Well since you voted for him how does it feel?

  16. 27

    Richard Pope spews:

    Somehow I don’t think they have ever appointed a sitting Governor (or even a former Governor) to be Solicitor General. And this is supposed to be a step UP for Gregoire?

  17. 28

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    @7: “I am so confidant that I do not think I am gambling.”

    In that case make it 10:1 and I’m in for $25. Winnings get donated to Goldy.

  18. 29

    J. Whorfin spews:

    27: Actually, this has happened before:

    From 1940 until 1945, he was Governor of Rhode Island, reorganizing the juvenile court system while sponsoring a workers’ compensation fund and a labor relations board, but he resigned in the middle of his third term to accept appointment as Solicitor General of the United States (1945-46).

  19. 30

    proud leftist spews:

    I agree. USAG is one thing. Solicitor General? I don’t think so. We need her here. We don’t need political chaos in this state for Gregoire to take the SG position.

  20. 31

    proud leftist spews:

    Interesting profile. He became Solicitor General at like 42 or so. He probably had national aspirations from the outset of his career. He did become Attorney General later, still quite young. He must have had some ability.

  21. 33

    sarge spews:

    It would not be a cakewalk for Rossi. And Inslee does have statewide name recognition. He represented Eastern Washington as a state rep. and as a Congressman in the 4th District, which is like half of the eastside and includes Wenatchee, Ellensburg, Yakima, and Tri-Cities.

    If there is a special election, I think Inslee is in, and has a good chance.

  22. 35



    You have a great idea here.

    Maybe G is leaving the ship to enhance Jay’s chances by short sheeting the Repricans? IE forcing a conflicts between mcKenna, Rossi, the Tea baggers, Sontag??? Wouldn’t that be a wild idea?

    I still find it hard to imagine that BHO would not want a stronger attorney as SG.

  23. 38

    sarge spews:

    @35: Gregoire is a “strong” attorney. She’d make an excellent SG.

    Personally, I’d rather see her in a Federal regulatory role, like head of the MMS, SEC, FDA, etc…

  24. 39

    Chris Stefan spews:

    Gregoire has already stated she intends to finish out her term. I suspect that unless President Obama really twists her arm she won’t take the SG job.

    Now her stepping down for an appointment to the Federal bench or as the head of a major Federal agency I could see. If Obama wins in 2012 then I could see Gregoire being interested in a wider list of potential jobs including SG or an ambassadorship.