Reagan Dunn is the better choice of two credible candidates for Washington state attorney general.

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REAGAN Dunn is the best choice to replace Rob McKenna as Washington’s elected attorney general.

The Republican Dunn and his Democratic opponent, Bob Ferguson, are similar in obvious ways. Each is in his 40s. Each was trained in the law. Each has been elected and re-elected to the Metropolitan King County Council, where each defeated an incumbent of his own party. Each has shown his independence from his party in some ways — Ferguson, by supporting the plan to shrink the council, and Dunn, for supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

Each is a rising star in his own party.

Our preference for Dunn begins with legal experience, which is crucial for the office of attorney general. Dunn was a federal prosecutor in Miami, Washington, D.C., and Seattle, working here under former U.S. Attorney John McKay. Dunn knows the courtroom, having prosecuted violators of drug, gun, child-porn and financial laws.

Dunn’s courtroom experience is strong, and it outmatches his opponent’s. He has been an effective councilman.

In Washington, D.C., Dunn was counsel to the director for the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, which provides support to U.S. attorneys nationwide. In that job, he had a sense of what matters in managing a group of government attorneys, which is what he will have to do in Olympia. As attorney general, he will also have to deal with the Justice Department over such issues as Washington’s medical-marijuana law.

Those are résumé reasons to vote for Dunn. There is also a political reason. A struggle has been underway in Olympia for several years over reforms to public-sector pay, pensions and state programs with the aim of slowing the relentless increase in state spending. It is crucial that this financial reset succeed, so that the state can have the money it needs for its central work, education.

Some reforms have passed, and several of them have been taken to court by state-employee unions. More reforms are coming, and they will bring more lawsuits. Based simply on who their political supporters are, an Attorney General Dunn is a better bet to defend these reforms than is an Attorney General Ferguson.

This page has endorsed Attorney General Rob McKenna, Republican, for governor. The political reason to elect Reagan Dunn as attorney general is that Dunn will back McKenna in his effort to finish the reform of state government.