Rob McKenna is the best candidate to replace Chris Gregoire as governor of Washington.
For eight years McKenna has been the state attorney general, the same job Gregoire had before becoming governor. Unlike a legislative post, it is a management job, and provides much better preparation for the top job in Olympia than being a congressman in Washington, D.C.
The difference shows. Since this page endorsed him three months ago, the Republican McKenna has shown a greater grasp of detail than his Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, on a wide range of issues.
People are concerned about jobs, restoring education to full funding and budget sustainability. On every point, McKenna has a superior, substantive plan.
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For example, McKenna has a clearer idea of how to raise the state’s support of public schools as ordered by the Washington Supreme Court. Inslee has launched a cynical and opportunistic attack on McKenna for his idea of raising the state property tax while lowering local school levies, but offers no solution of his own.
This proposal is about the only one that could come closer to satisfying the court without imposing a large net tax increase statewide. The proposal is bipartisan. A version of it is supported by state Rep. Ross Hunter, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
McKenna has an independent mind. He is willing to work with Democrats and he is willing on occasion to buck his party. He defended Washington’s top-two primary before the U.S. Supreme Court, despite pressure from his own party seeking to overturn it. And he won.
Inslee’s supporters have been trying to tar McKenna with the social intolerance of some national Republicans, suggesting that McKenna will move the state backward on abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.
Voters, don’t be fooled. There is no evidence of this, either from what McKenna has said or what he has done in the past eight years. Same-sex marriage will likely be approved in Washington before McKenna takes office.
McKenna says he will put state government under strict management. Inslee promises this, too, but much of his support comes from public-employee unions that have an interest in pay, benefits and tax increases. Inslee says he will not ask for tax increases, but he doesn’t rule them out, and he opposes the requirement that tax increases require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature or a vote of the people. McKenna supports the two-thirds rule. That says a lot.
He knows more about state government than Inslee does and he will make a better manager of it.