Perhaps this isn’t a shocker, but the Association of Washington Business has issued what might be counted as its biggest endorsements of the year – and it is backing Republicans Rob McKenna and Reagan Dunn in the races for governor and attorney general, respectively.
And so the battle lines are formally drawn, even if everyone might have seen it coming. The state Labor Council months ago announced its support for Democrats Jay Inslee and Bob Ferguson in the same two races.
AWB, meeting in Spokane, staged debates Tuesday for the two races in the city’s oldest surviving movie palace – a bit of state theater in the old State Theater. (The theater has been renamed for Bing Crosby.) The endorsements followed Wednesday. Also winning the nod was Democrat James McIntire, running unopposed for reelection as treasurer, and Initiative 1240, the charter schools initiative, which is in the signature-gathering process. AWB has already given its endorsement to Initiative 1185, which would renew the 2/3 legislative voting requirement for tax increases.
AWB’s news release follows:
AWB Votes to Support McKenna, Dunn and McIntire
SPOKANE, June 13.— The board of directors for the Association of Washington Business today voted to endorse Republicans Rob McKenna and Reagan Dunn, as well as Democrat Jim McIntire, in the 2012 races for governor, attorney general and state treasurer. AWB is the state’s oldest and largest business organization.
The association’s endorsements come on the heels of the first debates of the 2012 campaigns, hosted Tuesday by AWB and Greater Spokane Incorporated at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane. AWB has hosted a debate between candidates for governor every election cycle since the 1992 Lowry/Eikenberry race. Candidates and ballot measures must earn a 60 percent vote or better of the AWB board to earn an endorsement.
“Yesterday’s debate between the leading candidates for governor and attorney general gave us a good look at all four campaigns and their vision for Washington state. This was really the first opportunity our members — and viewers across the state — had to hear these candidates talk about the issues and their plans for solving the state’s problems. We also appreciate the fact that all four candidates talked about the importance of the private sector and small business,” said AWB President Don Brunell.
“Our state continues to face many serious fiscal and policy issues that stand to have a dramatic impact on private employers,” Brunell continued. “After reviewing the positions of both candidates, our board determined that Rob McKenna is the best candidate to lead our state into better economic times. They felt he better understands the competitive forces at play in our business climate and has clearly articulated solutions to many of the issues our members are tracking.”
In the race for attorney general, the board endorsed Republican Reagan Dunn.
“As with Rob McKenna, our board believes Reagan Dunn better understands the challenges faced by businesses in our state,” said Brunell. “The office of the attorney general is integral to our ability to maintain a competitive business climate, and our members believe Reagan Dunn is the best candidate to represent business’ interests in that office.”
The third candidate the board endorsed was incumbent Democrat Jim McIntire, who although unopposed, has managed the state’s finances well despite difficult times, said Brunell.
The board also voted Wednesday to endorse Initiative 1240, authorizing up to 40 charter public schools over the next five years. The measure was recently approved by the Secretary of State’s office to begin the signature gathering process. The bipartisan Washington Coalition for Charter Public Schools has until July 6 to submit 241,153 valid signatures of registered Washington voters to secure I-1240 a place on the fall ballot.
“The charter public schools outlined under Initiative 1240 would give public schools and the families they serve greater flexibility and choice in the education of their students. AWB has long supported charter schools and Initiative 1240 aligns with the principles our board has set forth in our policy principles,” added Brunell. “Charter public schools are one more tool educators can use to help ensure all students reach their potential.”
In September, AWB will host three additional debates with the candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state and auditor at its 2012 Policy Summit.