Washington governor: McKenna

His record as attorney general is stronger than Inslee's work as congressman

Published:

 

Tips for voters

For an online local and statewide Voters' Pamphlet: Clark County Elections.

To review The Columbian's editorial endorsements: The Columbian/Opinion. The list is updated daily.

For answers to other questions about Clark County's Nov. 6 election: Clark County Elections.

For eight years as Washington attorney general, Rob McKenna has worked closely with the Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire, acquiring a vast knowledge of how both branches of state government can succeed even during the worst economic times. Occasionally, he disagreed with lawmakers as well as Gregoire, demonstrating an independent streak, but he has never wavered in his pursuit of open government principles, unflagging fortitude against domestic violence and protection of consumers.That background elevates McKenna to the top choice for governor. The Columbian's endorsement is based also on McKenna's deep awareness of issues important to Clark County, acquired through many visits here.

Jay Inslee is making a strong bid as Democratic nominee. He is a total Washingtonian, growing up in Yakima and serving both eastern and western parts of the state as an elected official. But his 13 years in Congress do not match McKenna's eight years in the generally neutral attorney general's office when it comes to seeking the state's most powerful position. That apprenticeship, of sorts, worked for Gregoire, who served as AG before two terms as governor, and we believe it fits McKenna, as well.

McKenna's proposed solutions -- more specific than Inslee's -- include increasing funding for education without increasing taxes. He'll do that through trims elsewhere in state government: reducing the general workforce through attrition, emphasizing competitive contracting, and moving state workers to more efficient health insurance plans. McKenna believes in an economic recovery, and he would shift revenue growth into education.

It should be no surprise that the state's largest teachers union, the Washington Education Association, has endorsed Inslee. But it is surprising that the 26,000-member Public School Employees of Washington endorsed McKenna. (Previously, the group supported Gregoire, a Democrat.) Clearly, McKenna is strengthening his credentials on education.

McKenna's record is decorated with triumphs in challenging arenas. In the U.S. Supreme Court, he successfully defended the state's top two primary.

Much more so than Inslee, McKenna understands the need to reverse the growth of government. In the past four years, he's reduced staffing in the attorney general's office and cut the department's budget by more than $25 million.

McKenna knows Southwest Washington. He believes the Interstate 5 Bridge "must be replaced" and recognizes tolls as necessary, although he's uncommitted on light rail for the bridge. At the Aug. 29 McKenna-Inslee debate here, many observers said McKenna was the most compelling, articulate and prepared candidate on the stage.

Another fundamentally neutral public servant, retiring state Auditor Brian Sonntag, a Democrat, has called McKenna "the right person for the job. Olympia has been polluted by special interest or partisan meddling. I've seen Rob display the kind of leadership that can get past all of that."

We agree and recommend voting for Rob McKenna for governor.