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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

In Our View: Ferguson clear choice for attorney general

The Columbian
Published: September 29, 2020, 6:03am

During eight years as Washington’s attorney general, Democrat Bob Ferguson has vociferously defended the state’s residents. The Columbian Editorial Board strongly recommends that Ferguson be elected to another four-year term.

As always, this is merely a recommendation, designed to foster discussion. The Columbian trusts that voters will examine the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot.

As an editorial board interview with the candidates demonstrated, Ferguson is a thoughtful and articulate advocate for Washington and for the rule of law. Whether challenging capricious policy decisions by the Trump administration or harmful practices by pharmaceutical companies, Ferguson’s office is eager to stand up against actions that are harmful to the state’s citizens.

That has included 80 lawsuits against the Trump regime, with Washington taking the lead role in 34 cases and joining 46 others. Critics suggest that Ferguson is too active in challenging the other Washington; but it is notable that, according to Ferguson, his office has won 35 of the 36 lawsuits against the administration that have been decided.

“What that demonstrates is we’re on the right cases,” Ferguson told the editorial board. “We’re bringing lawsuits in cases that are harmful to Washington; it is my duty to bring those lawsuits.”

Among those lawsuits, Ferguson has defeated the administration over Trump’s initial Muslim travel ban, which was far broader than a later version upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court; Trump’s plan to allow 3D-printed guns using blueprints illegally disseminated over the internet; and 13 cases involving environmental protections.

Ferguson’s office also has been prominent in working to protect consumers, and corporations accused of defrauding Washington residents have paid more than $500 million to the state. That has more than paid for a doubling in the size of the department’s consumer protection division.

Ferguson also has created a Civil Rights Unit within his office to further protect Washingtonians.

Now, Ferguson has taken the lead in protecting the Affordable Care Act because the Trump administration has abdicated its duty to defend federal law. About 200,000 Washington residents receive subsidies under Obamacare that help them purchase health insurance, and another 650,000 receive health care under the law’s Medicaid expansion. “There are potentially massive consequences for Washington,” he told The Seattle Times.

Republican Matt Larkin, a Woodinville resident who works as legal counsel for his family’s manufacturing business, is challenging Ferguson while focusing on a law-and-order platform. “I got into this race because I don’t recognize this state anymore,” he told the editorial board.

Larkin — who has expressed strong support for Trump’s policies — criticizes Ferguson for his focus on Washington, D.C.; but the state’s success in challenging the administration points out the need for such actions. If the administration pursues illegal policies that are harmful to Washington residents, we all benefit from having a forceful advocate in Olympia.

As Ferguson sees it, he is in charge of “an independent law firm on behalf of the people of Washington.” That firm includes more than 500 lawyers and about 600 other employees, and Ferguson has been an effective manager and has tended to the state’s business while still serving as a watchdog over the federal government.

Bob Ferguson is the clear choice in the race for attorney general. The Columbian recommends that he be reelected.