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Commissioner Would Consider Run At Governor

State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn says she likes her job fine, thank you, but that doesn’t rule out a challenge to Gov. Mike Lowry in 1996.

Senn is the first statewide Democratic incumbent to say she’d consider taking on the embattled governor.

Other Democrats, including State Attorney General Christine Gregoire, have begged off at least for now, saying they would not run against Lowry.

But Senn has always been more likely to detonate than demur.

In her three years in office she has pounded her bully pulpit for health reform; attacked insurance executives for collecting fat salaries and publicly embarrassed them for spending subscribers’ money on everything from high-rolling lobbyists to computer games and golf.

So perhaps it’s no surprise Senn would publicly consider stepping into the ring with Lowry.

“I don’t rule it out,” Senn said.

She’d have to overcome predictably stiff opposition from business and insurance interests. Republicans also would attempt to tar her with the unpopular health care reform law, which was repealed before it could even go into effect.

Meanwhile, Lowry hasn’t declared his intentions, and is traveling hither and yon to talk up his record in small towns, far from the dastardly Puget Sound and Olympia press corps.

Lowry has often complained he doesn’t get a fair shake from Olympia reporters, who he once called “unwitting subsidiaries of the Republican Party.”

And that was before the press began grilling him about allegations of sexual harassment raised by a former press aide. Lowry recently agreed to pay $97,500 out of his own pocket in an out-of-court settlement reached in connection with the allegations.

Still in a spending mood?

Spokane residents counting on a new stadium to keep the Mariners around had better hope West Siders are in a generous mood.

King County voters will be asked in September to raise the sales tax from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent to pay the county’s $240 million share toward a new retractable-roof ballpark for the team.

The Mariners said they will leave town if they are stuck in the concrete Kingdome.

Nevermind that voters just got the bill for $70 million in repairs to the Dome, to stop it from leaking and shedding ceiling tiles in the middle of the outfield.

The Seahawks say the much-dissed Dome still isn’t good enough, and needs $100 million in improvements, at taxpayers’ expense.

Then there was a recent $2.6 million blunder by Metro, the transit folks, who bought 146 more commuter vans than needed. The vans sit idle in a monster parking lot in Bellevue.

And King County Council members are busily spending $5.8 million on new digs in the county courthouse.

But they’re pikers compared to the Seattle City Council, which voted Monday to allow Mayor Norm Rice to spend up to $125 million to buy the 62-story AT&T; Tower for city offices.

The AT&T; Tower is the second highest building in Seattle, and will be packed to the rafters with city and government employees.

Next: Voters will be asked to pony up $3 billion for a rapid transit system. But hey, that’s a bargain compared to the $7 billion plan voters nixed last spring.

Going over the limit

Former Rep. George Orr, D-Spokane, maybe should have stayed in bed during the last election.

He lost to Rep. Larry Crouse, the GOP challenger. And violated the law in the process.

Orr was found guilty by the state Public Disclosure Commission last week of accepting nearly $30,000 in contributions from the Washington State Council of Firefighters.

That broke the state’s limit on contributions. And Orr failed to declare the money - used for billboards and bus signs - as an in-kind contribution to his campaign.

Orr was not fined for the violation. But he said it gave him heartburn.

, DataTimes MEMO: West Side Stories runs every other week.

West Side Stories runs every other week.