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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

One Bob to rule them all: Two of the three candidates for governor named Bob Ferguson drop out of Washington’s race

Attorney General Bob Ferguson  (Attorney General Bob Ferguson/TNS)

OLYMPIA – Drama that ensued last week when three people named Bob Ferguson all filed to run for Washington’s governorship appeared to have settled down Monday when two of the trio of Bobs dropped out of the race.

On Monday, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a public statement in which he threatened to take legal action if the other two people by the same name did not withdraw their candidacies by the deadline later that day.

“In the final hours of filing week, anti-democracy Republicans orchestrated a cynical, deceptive attack on election integrity,” Ferguson said. “To be clear: I do not want these two individuals to be prosecuted so long as they do what is right and withdraw by today’s 5 p.m. deadline.”

At a campaign event Monday in Seattle, the attorney general told supporters he had sent cease-and-desist letters to the other Bobs over the weekend.

Later on Monday, the secretary of state’s office released a statement confirming two of the three people named Bob Ferguson had formally dropped out of the race.

“Voters deserve good-faith candidates who are running on the strength of their ideas to make Washington a better place to live and work, not people who pay a filing fee just to manipulate elections,” Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said. “Washington’s long history of free and fair elections must be protected and preserved in every year and campaign cycle.”

A state law makes it a felony to declare as a candidate for public office under the same name of a fictitious person, a false name or in using the name of an incumbent or candidate who has already filed “with intent to confuse and mislead” the voting public.

Ferguson formally filed his campaign paperwork to run for governor on May 6. Four days later, with hours to spare before the state’s filing deadline, two other men named Bob Ferguson threw their hats into the ring in the governor’s race. One of the Bobs who entered the election Friday is a military veteran in Graham, and the other is a retired state employee who lives in Yakima.

All three Bobs filed as Democratic candidates. The cost to file campaign paperwork for governor is almost $2,000.

A statement posted on the website titled Neighbors for Bob Ferguson PAC on Monday announced that the man named Bob Ferguson who is a military veteran from Graham was dropping out of the race.

“I was faced with harassment and legal action if I did not withdraw from the race,” reads the statement signed by Robert Ferguson. “I was publicly labeled a ‘threat to democracy’ by another candidate and his supporters.”

It turned out that conservative activist Glen Morgan orchestrated the three-Bob chaos and fronted the $2,000 checks for the two Bobs who filed their campaigns Friday. Morgan was given the Washington State Republican Party’s “volunteer of the year” award in 2023.

In a phone interview, Morgan told the Seattle Times he tried to get as many as a dozen people named Bob Ferguson to file paperwork to get their names onto the primary ballot.

A Spokesman-Review reporter’s phone calls to phone numbers listed for the Morgan-backed Bob campaigns were not returned Monday.

Also on Monday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Mark Mullet issued a statement decrying the Bob drama.

“The two Bobs should withdraw before the 5:00 deadline today,” Mullet said.

“We don’t need anything to confuse voters on the ballot. This is an illegal sideshow that does nothing to improve our electoral process.”

This year marks the first incumbent-free contest for governor since Gov. Jay Inslee was elected in 2012. Inslee announced last year that he would not seek re-election for a fourth term.

Thus far, candidates in the governor’s race have spent nearly $7 million on their campaigns.

Washington’s primary election is Aug. 6.