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Inslee gives a campaign speech on the Capitol steps after filing for office.
OLYMPIA — In front of a crowd that included babies in arms, senior citizens and union members in hard hats, Democrat Jay Inslee tried to energize his gubernatorial campaign after making it official.
One of a handful of candidates to file paperwork and pay his fee Tuesday, Inslee gave a campaign speech on the Capitol steps after completing the process inside the building to run for governor.
State Republicans were quick with a counterpunch, saying voters shouldn’t choose Inslee to be governor after he decided he couldn’t serve out his congressional term and run for office at the same time. Inslee resigned his seat earlier this year to campaign full time.
“Ex-Congressman Inslee is obviously not concerned about the welfare of (Congressional) District One, so how can he be concerned about the welfare of the state?” State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur said in a prepared statement a few hours after Inslee filed.
After his speech, Inslee talked with reporters about plans for education improvements that would build on successes around the state and pay bonuses to the best teachers willing to be mentors to new teachers. He shied away from the term charter schools, saying at one point it has different meanings to different people, and for some signifies a lack of control by locally elected school boards. Changes under his plan would be controlled by school boards, and possibly funded by state grants, he said.
Inslee also disagreed with fellow Democrat and retiring Gov. Chris Gregoire, who said he and Republican candidate Rob McKenna need to acknowledge the fact that the state faces a new source of revenue — that is to say, a tax increase — to cover a $1 billion jump in spending to comply with a recent state Supreme Court ruling on fully funded basic education. No new taxes are needed, he said, if the economy gets back on track, more people get back to work, and the state finds savings elsewhere in the budget, like reducing health care costs.
OLYMPIA – Cameras are everywhere.
That’s the lesson of a 30-second exchange between Rob McKenna, the state attorney general who would-be governor, and a young woman on a Seattle sidewalk that went from pointed conversation to Youtube video overnight, and resuscitated an issue Republicans were probably glad to have killed during the Legislative session.
McKenna was coming out of the Red Lion Conference Center last week when Kendra Obom, tape recorder in hand, approached and asked what his stance is on the Reproductive Parity Act. His response, McKenna said as he continued walking, was that he’s a lawyer for the state, suggested Obom turn her recorder off and accused her of “trying to bushwhack me,” as well as not being very polite and possibly not honest.
Obom, following along, protested that she was just wondering. McKenna, still walking, continued to ask if she thought she was being honest, until she said “forget it” and he countered with a suggestion that she was trying to gain a political advantage, then closed off the exchange with “Why don’t you get a job?”
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What may well be the first gubernatorial debate of the Washington election season could happen June 12 in Spokane.
The Association of Washington Business, which has a long history of gubernatorial matchups in front of its membership, wants to have Attorney General Rob McKenna and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee face off the Bing Crosby Theater during the group's annual spring meeting.
But after it announced the debate this week, the Inslee campaign said it was still working on the schedule and hadn't yet committed to that event or any other debate, forum or joint appearance. (Editor's note: an earlier version of this post said the debate was set.)
"It's on our list of things we wanted to schedule," Jaime Smith, campaign spokeswoman said, adding she was aware the group has a long tradition of holding a gubernatorial debate but was baffled that AWB's announcement came before a formal commitment. "We've got lots of invitations."
Jocelyn McCabe, a spokeswoman for AWB, said scheduling a debate is a bit like planning a wedding. You get the place, the date, the time first, then handle some of the other details like format and lining up media partners a bit closer to the event. It has Greater Spokane Inc., as a co-sponsor of the debate. The group needed to schedule its spring meeeting in Spokane and book the hall for the debate now. It told the Inslee campaign it would announce the matchup in early January. And did.
"We're having the debate," McCabe said.
And if Inslee can't make it? They may be having a conversation with McKenna, because it requires at least two people to debate.
Also on the AWB's planned fight card — oops, debate schedule — will be state attorney general candidates Reagan Dunn and Bob Ferguson.
The debates will take place before either race is officially set, because the state primary isn't until early August. But that isn't a concern for the Inslee campaign. In fact, he's called for six debates across the state, divided geographically, and with some focusing on set issues, so to wait until after the primary for a half dozen debates would require cramming the debates pretty closely together.
McCabe, spokeswoman for AWB, said both campaigns would be given a set number of tickets to watch the debate along with the group's members.
Moderating both debates would be Austin Jenkins of Northwest News Network. The Bing has been the site of several memorable political debates for local offices.
Now it might be the back drop for what is a regular feature of most hotly contested races: a debate over debates.
Although the election is still 15 months away, Washington's gubernatorial race has a lofty ranking of No. 1.
The political website put the match between Attorney General Rob McKenna and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee at the top of the best 10 state executive races for 2012, even though it notes there is no current polling. It was No. 1 in June and No. 2 in May.