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.