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Prison Secretary Clarke New England-bound…

Harold Clarke, Secretary of the state Department of Corrections, has resigned. He's moving to Massachusetts, which has hired him to head that state's prison system.

In a six-sentence news release, Gov. Chris Gregoire thanked Clarke for his work.

“Secretary Clarke has made significant contributions to public safety in Washington,” she said. “This has not been an easy task for Harold or his family and, on behalf of the people of Washington, I thank him for his service.”

State GOP chairman Luke Esser -- one of many Republicans to criticize Gregoire for the Department of Corrections' early release of some felons -- said that Clark is being "scapegoat"ed by Gregoire.

“I disagree with Harold Clarke’s approach to public safety," Esser said in his own press release, "but I don’t blame him for leaving after Gov. Gregoire threw him under the bus for following her orders.”

Look for felons and prisons to be a big GOP talking point in the governor's race, judging by this and other recent Republican criticism of Gregoire.

"Gov. Gregoire continues to support the early release of felons and has explicitly pursued a “no-new-prisons” policy of knowingly refusing to build sufficient prison capacity – even though she increased state spending by a record 33%," Esser said.

NOTE: Dammit. Due to inattentive editing on my part, the quote marks and critical words "Esser said" were missing from the last paragraph of this post for most of the day. Mea culpa.

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