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Sunday, October 13, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion

AG Ferguson has experience edge

Attorney General Bob Ferguson must be feeling confident about his re-election chances, because he recently unveiled a controversial call for an assault-weapons ban in Washington state.

Legislators have been reluctant to touch any gun-control issue, even when polling is favorable. But Ferguson, a Democrat, is up against a largely unknown candidate, Joshua Trumbull, who is running as a Libertarian. He is the first Libertarian Party candidate for a statewide office to advance to the general election since the top-two primary began (in 2008).

It’s remarkable that no Republican entered the contest just four years removed from Rob McKenna leaving to run for governor.

Trumbull is an Arlington attorney who got his law degree at Gonzaga University. He has spent much of his career defending people against foreclosure and other tactics used by lenders in the wake of the mortgage meltdown and collapse of the housing market.

He would like for the attorney general’s office to make such cases a higher priority. He is opposed to Ferguson’s weapons ban, saying it’s an affront to Second Amendment rights and the state constitution.

Trumbull is critical of the office in the Oso Landslide case, where a staff attorney knew that experts examining liability were deleting emails.

Trumbull has missed some Public Disclosure Commission deadlines; he says it’s because of his unfamiliarity with disclosure law. This is his first run for public office.

After defeating Reagan Dunn in 2012, Ferguson moved quickly to fulfill three goals: beefing up the Consumer Protection Division, securing better pay for attorneys (a major retention issue) and establishing an open-government ombudsman to help people navigate public records law.

His office sued Comcast for misleading customers about its service protection plan and for other alleged deceptions. It also took on Johnson & Johnson for masking risks associated with its surgical mesh, which is designed to treat pelvic conditions in women. The lawsuit alleges women suffered “horrific injuries and pain” from infections.

The AG’s office took emergency legal action to force improved worker safety at Hanford Nuclear Reservation. And in a case that made national headlines, the office filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman, a Richland florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for a wedding.

A Benton County Superior Court judge ruled she violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.

Ferguson came into office promising to be a staunch protector of consumers, and has taken on some powerful entities. He has also followed through on his vow to advocate for open government.

Trumbull is a sincere, well-meaning candidate, but he hasn’t made a strong case for turning this large public practice over to a relatively inexperienced lawyer.

We recommend voters return Ferguson for a second term.

To respond to this editorial online, go to www.spokesman.com and click on “Opinion.”

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