Gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee took his attack on his Democratic rivals and public funding for football to the airwaves Monday.
A statewide television blitz, the first of the campaign, highlights an issue Inslee has been pressing for months in forums and debates.
In appearances with King County Executive Gary Locke and Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, the former congressman repeatedly challenges them to promise no state funds will be spent to fix the Kingdome or build a new stadium. Even when they aren’t present, he denounces the prospect of spending state money on the project.
The commercials debut at a time when negotiators for potential buyer Paul Allen reportedly want Locke to put in writing any changes in the Kingdome lease that were discussed last spring. At the time, Locke and other officials were looking for a new owner that would keep the team in Seattle.
Negotiators for Allen now reportedly want a written agreement to keep negotiations on track should Locke be elected governor.
Allen has already put his views in writing, Inslee noted. In a “Dear Seahawks fan” letter last month to season ticket holders and public officials, the Microsoft co-founder called for “a financial partnership between the public and private sectors, including the county and state.”
Financial partnership means money from the taxpayers, Inslee said. Any use of state funds to build a new stadium or renovate the Kingdome would be “corporate welfare,” he contends.
Although Rice has not been a key figure in the negotiations to keep the Seahawks in Seattle, he has refused to rule out using taxpayer money at some point. It would depend on the economic and community benefits of the deal, Rice said in an April letter to Inslee.
The ad, which repeats Inslee’s theme that the money would be better spent on schools than a stadium, will be broadcast in Spokane, the Puget Sound, Yakima and the Tri-Cities.