Allegations of sexual harassment and questions about drinking contrast sharply with Gov. Mike Lowry’s public profile.
Lowry has made restoring faith in public officials and government a central goal for his administration. He speaks often of the importance of personal integrity and the family.
Unlike many in public life, Lowry has consistently refrained from criticizing other public officials, taking the high road even when vilified by critics.
During his 1992 campaign for governor, he voluntarily limited his campaign contributions. Once elected, he cut his own salary. He even pays part of the cost of his keep at the governor’s mansion.
Now Lowry finds his character under attack.
The charges come at a difficult time in his political career.
Last fall, a statewide poll pegged his approval rating at only 36 percent. Then in November, the election shifted the balance of power in Olympia.
The GOP holds a commanding majority in the state House, while Lowry’s Democratic Party holds a one-vote margin in the Senate.
Many conservative Republicans are staking their careers on unraveling health care reform and other key programs the governor helped put in place in 1993.
One Republican senator, James West of Spokane, summed up Lowry’s fortunes weeks ago, before the harassment allegations surfaced: “He’s toast.”
“This governor’s problems started with the Legislature long before this,” Senate Minority Leader Dan McDonald, R-Bellevue, said of the recent charges.
“But you know this has got to be a very tough time for him.”
Still, Lowry said Tuesday the recent allegations haven’t dented his commitment.
“Would I resign, not run again? Are you kidding?” he said. “If there is any misperception that it affects my job, no way. I can give two hours a day away dealing with this stuff and still outwork anybody.”