Opinion

Washington's changing political landscape | Bob Roegner

In the past three weeks, the political landscape has changed more than the Mariners roster.

First, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced she would not seek re-election next year. While not a surprise, it did open the door for two potential candidates to become formal candidates.

Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna and Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee made their announcement within days of each other — although that may not be the end of the announcements. Republican moderates are still watching Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant, and conservatives are still looking for a candidate to represent their viewpoint. Some have speculated that former U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier might run.

McKenna may be the best positioned candidate the Republicans have had in several decades. If Bryant brackets McKenna from the left and in King County, and someone like Didier brackets him from the right and in Eastern Washington, the cheering you will hear will include Democrats. Cooler heads will likely prevail and give McKenna a clear shot.

Speaking of Bryant, some Republicans would like to see him take on U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell because the only other name making the rounds is Susan Hutchison, who lost to Dow Constantine for King County Executive. Bryant would be an attractive candidate and he does have options, but neither governor or U.S. Senate look winnable for him. Watch for his decision after his race for re-election to the Port Commission is over this fall.

As to Cantwell, she has money in the bank and will be very difficult to beat.

Also, State Auditor Brian Sonntag took himself out of the governor’s race and will run for re-election. Several legislators were rumored to be interested in running for auditor if the position became vacant, including Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-Federal Way).

Then, Ron Sims announced he was stepping down as number two at HUD about the time Gregoire made her announcement. That set off all kinds of rumors about Sims possibly running for governor. Sims says he just wants to come home to Seattle and work in the garden. He won’t run for governor, but working in the garden probably won’t last long, either. Sims has a strong passion for public service. Mayor of Seattle in 2013 seems most likely unless another option opens sooner.

Sims’ announcement was followed by Secretary of State Sam Reed stating he was not going to run again next year. I visited with Reed during two of his recent trips to our area, and he didn’t sound like a candidate, so his announcement wasn’t a surprise. I worked with Reed when I was at King County, and I have a huge respect for his integrity and how he handled his job. When it comes to ensuring election honesty and fairness, Reed stood his ground, even when it alienated his own party. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, look for a candidate that reflects Reed’s values.

State Sen. Jim Kastama (D-Puyallup) has already announced for Secretary of State as has Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman. Other possible candidates include Zach Hudgins (D-Tukwila) and Kathleen Drew from the governor’s office.

Many thought Lt. Gov. Brad Owen would step down, and speculation was State Sens. Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way) and possibly Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) might be interested. But at the end of the legislative session, and again in a recent conversation, Owen sounded very much like a candidate. At least two Federal Way politicians had been eyeing Eide’s job if she had looked to move up.

Lastly, former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg has ruled out another bid for the Attorney General’s office and will run for the State Supreme Court. That leaves King County Council members Bob Ferguson and Reagan Dunn as the only announced candidates. King County is technically non-partisan, but that is in name only. Ferguson is a Democrat and Dunn is a Republican.

Wow! That was a lot of changes in the landscape in a short period of time. But stay tuned, there will be more. And by the way, we still have elections going on this year!

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