Sounding some Republican themes and describing himself as a cheapskate, Democrat Gary Locke officially began his campaign for governor Tuesday in Spokane.
King County’s chief executive called for smaller more efficient government, limits on benefits for long-term welfare recipients and tax breaks to spur economic development.
“Government can never do it all,” the former state legislator told a crowd of about 100 at the downtown Red Lion hotel. “We must pick and choose our priorities. Do a few things really well.”
He later said he would cut supervisors and managers to avoid reducing money for benefits or reducing teachers, case workers or prison guards.
During his speech, the former chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee described himself as a micromanager who can get too involved in the details of budgeting.
“Some people even call me cheap,” he said. “In public life, that’s called being a fiscal conservative.”
Locke said the state may have no choice but to set time limits for some welfare recipients. It shouldn’t penalize the majority of recipients who spend less than three years on government aid, or the disabled or elderly who need ongoing assistance.
But it should come up with strategies for recipients who are able to work but remain on aid programs for more than three years. They should have job training, access to day care and some health insurance while they get off welfare, he said.
Locke said he started his three-day campaign tour in Spokane because Eastern Washington would be crucial to the race.
Votes in more populous Western Washington will be split among several “local” candidates Locke shares the Democratic ballot with: Seattle Mayor Norm Rice; Seattle state Sen. Nita Rinehart; and former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, who previously represented central Washington but now lives on Bainbridge Island.
The Republican ballot includes King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, Tacoma attorney Jim Waldo and King County GOP executive Nona Brazier. Also on the GOP ballot are former state Sen. Ellen Craswell of Poulsbo, state Sen. Pam Roach of Auburn, and state Rep. Dale Foreman of Wenatchee.