Arrow-right Camera


Attorney general candidates debate

Wed., June 13, 2012

Two candidates for state attorney general agreed on a few things in their first debate. Both support same-sex marriage. Both oppose legalizing marijuana for recreational use but support it for medical use.

Both would press the federal government to keep to the schedule of cleaning up the waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

While the two King County councilmen appeared not to like each other much in their first debate, their biggest point of disagreement may have been the sort of legal experience the state’s chief legal officer should have.

Republican Reagan Dunn told the crowd at the Bing Crosby Theater the next attorney general should have a mix of criminal and civil experience – which he has from working in the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle. Democrat Bob Ferguson said the job is almost 99 percent civil and maintains that he has more experience in civil practice. The current occupant of the office, Republican Rob McKenna, has a background in civil law, not criminal law, Ferguson added.

Although Ferguson and Dunn both said they will vote to approve same-sex marriage when it is on the November ballot as Referendum 74, both said they would not challenge the decision of voters if they turn the law down.

Both said they think an attorney general should consult with the governor before involving the state in national litigation, although they don’t think the state’s chief legal officer needs permission to proceed from the state’s chief executive. That was a reference to McKenna’s decision to join a multistate lawsuit against federal health care reform, which Gov. Chris Gregoire supports.

“As a matter of good government, it’s a good idea to consult,” Dunn said.

“I would want to notify the governor … as a matter of professional courtesy,” Ferguson said.

Jim Camden

Click here to comment on this story »