Press Talk: McKenna, Inslee talk at our shop

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 
photoLou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, twitter.com/lounews or lou.brancaccio@columbian.com.
photoRob McKenna

OK, it can be a grind sometimes, but I'll admit it's nice to have access to political candidates during the hijinks — ah — campaign season.

We get most candidates — OK, a few are frightened — to come to our editorial board.

They often get tough, pointed questions from us but — my view here — it’s great practice just in case they get elected. We’re cupcakes compared to what some constituents will do. They will bring the hammer down!

Recently our editorial board interviewed gubernatorial candidates Rob McKenna, Republican, and Jay Inslee, Democrat.

We'll be endorsing in this race soon but I want to throw out a few personal impressions.

Hey, I liked both of these guys!

McKenna isn't some right-wing nut job and Inslee doesn't come across as some left-wing wacko. (I hope my good friend state Rep. Jim Moeller is reading. You can be relatively normal and still be a good candidate. Honest!)

Both McKenna and Inslee are bright, appear to understand the issues and have plans to at least attempt to get us back on track.

Still Democrats are Democrats and Republicans are Republicans. And that is to say if you were a betting man, you'd bet Democrats are more inclined to reach into the taxpayers' pockets than are Republicans.

Put another way, if you are looking to get something from the government — and make no mistake, most of us are getting something from the government — Democrats are more likely to give it to you than Republicans.

That's why virtually all organized governmental employees are for Democrats. Again, like most of us, they're looking for something from elected officials and they know they are more likely to get it from Democrats than Republicans.

Really, this isn't rocket science, folks. Pretty simple stuff.

With all that in mind, we asked both of these guys a bunch of questions and, yes, some of those questions had to do with public and private employees.

I asked this to both candidates:

"Generally speaking, do you think private and public employees are on a level playing field?"

I should note whenever I discuss this topic I inevitably get this comment:

"Enough already, I'm tired of hearing about this issue."

But important issues like this — and make no mistake, this is an important issue — are not one-and-done. It needs to be discussed. There is a lot at stake here.

For example, very few private employees have pensions. Most public employees have pensions.

Inslee answers this "level playing field" question subtly. "It's complicated" and "There's a fair amount of parity."

McKenna answers more directly. "No, it's not equal."

My sense is both of these guys appreciate we have a real issue on our hands here. And I would encourage you to see their full answers — on this question and others — on some short videos we took, which are linked to this column.

Being informed and voting is often hard work. Let's get at it.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, lou.brancaccio@columbian.com or Twitter: http://twitter.com/lounews.