[NOTE: Washington State Wire reporter Erik Smith did not participate in these endorsements.]
We asked a collection of staff, readers, occasional contributors and capitol insiders to help us fill out our ballots. Here are our endorsements for statewide races in 2012:
They say you need a reason to replace an incumbent. When it comes to Maria Cantwell we can’t come up with one. She works hard, is learning to work across the aisle and is a tireless advocate for all things Washington State. Current State Senator Michael Baumgartner has run a respectable campaign, distinguishing himself as a pragmatic conservative willing to challenge his party on the war in Afghanistan and drug policy. Selfishly, we need leaders like him in Olympia. With a few more political accomplishments to claim we think he will make an excellent candidate for statewide office.
In 28 years of Democratic control of the state’s chief executive office, state government has collected a lot of dust. A recent report by State Auditor Brian Sontag’s Office on the multitude of failed management efforts underscores the need for real housecleaning. The simplest way to do that is to elect Rob McKenna who will shake up the seats at the table and provide a needed reset. Our message to Democrats and Independents too is simple: if in four years’ time you are not satisfied there will be no shortage of Democratic hopefuls in 2016 far more convincing than Jay Inslee to vote for. Inslee has just not shown a functional grasp of key state issues, and has offered a business as usual agenda that has too often failed our state on critical issues such as education. If McKenna loses, it’s hard to imagine another Republican able of surmounting a viable challenge the next go around. So the real number to be concerned about is not 28, it’s 36. That’s just way too long for one party to be in charge. We join the thinking people, and all of the state’s major newspapers with our endorsement of Attorney General Rob McKenna for governor.
Again, is there a reason to replace Brad Owen? We think not. Former Sen. Bill Finkbeiner’s platform of government reform is intriguing, however it is misdirected at Owen, who has been a model for bipartisan action. Finkbeiner would do a fine job, but we say stay the course with Owen.
Secretary of State:
In the race to replace Secretary Sam Reed, Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman stands out as the competent, non-partisan, and wonky leader to bring elections management into the next century. Unlike her suspiciously partisan longtime political operative opponent Kathleen Drew, Wyman actually has experience managing an office of people and is respected by those in the elections field (she is endorsed by an impressive list of Democratic and Republican County Auditors). With hotly contested debates over registration, integrity and fragile public confidence Wyman has to get the nod.
We like the job Jim McIntire has done, so we suggest he keep doing it. McIntire has come out publicly supporting fiscal responsibility in the face of his own party’s “light-bulb-snatch” funding plans. We respect anyone who steps up to run for statewide office, but being treasurer of the local little league team is not sufficient background for the job of keeper of the state loot. Ms. Hanek needs a little more time on the field before she is ready for the state stage.
Auditor Brian Sonntag refers to the office as the “window into our government.” It’s a job that demands the ultimate trust of citizens. That’s why our pick is James Watkins. Watkins has the experience and commitment to carry on the great job done by Sonntag. His opponent, Troy Kelley has too much swirling around his candidacy to lay a foundation for trust and openness.
Reagan Dunn is our choice for this statewide counselor post. Dunn is a former Federal Prosecutor / Assistant US Attorney, Western District of Washington, Terrorism and Violent Crime Unit; Special Assistant US Attorney, Southern Florida and District of Columbia; Senior Counsel to the Director, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. His opponent has served three terms on a King County Council that has distinguished itself in its effort to dig tunnels and build even more sports arenas. This position is about the law, not roads and basketball.