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McKenna to announce candidacy for governor

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Rob McKenna is preparing to officially launch his gubernatorial campaign, hoping to become Washington state’s first GOP governor in more than a quarter of a century, a Republican familiar with his planning said today.

McKenna will formally announce his 2012 bid during an event Wednesday night, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt McKenna’s announcement. A spokesman for McKenna declined to comment.

Washington state hasn’t had a Republican governor since John Spellman left office in 1985. A year before that, McKenna began his political career as student president at the University of Washington.

McKenna, 48, was first elected attorney general in 2004 after serving several years on the King County council. He is president-elect of the National Association of Attorneys General.

During his time as attorney general, he’s focused resources on fighting methamphetamine abuse, sexual predators and identity theft. Perhaps his most controversial move came last year, when he angered Democrats such as Gov. Chris Gregoire by signing on to a multistate challenge to the national health care reform law.

McKenna believes the health care law approved by President Barack Obama is unconstitutional because of a requirement that individuals without health insurance must purchase private insurance or face a fine.

Gregoire said Monday she hasn’t made a decision about whether to seek a third term. Democrats widely expect U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee to enter the race if Gregoire decides to leave office.

Former state Rep. Laura Ruderman has already declared her candidacy for Inslee’s 1st District seat, although she qualified her announcement by saying she would not campaign if Inslee decides to keep his seat.


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