King County Executive Dow Constantine has bowed out of the 2024 governor’s race.
In an email to supporters Friday addressing his political future, Constantine said after giving it “thorough consideration, I have concluded the answer is no, I would not run.”
Constantine, a Democrat serving his fourth term as executive, has been considered among the top potential candidates to run for the state’s highest office if Gov. Jay Inslee does not seek a fourth term.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson and state Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, both Democrats, also have said they are considering running to succeed Inslee. Like Constantine, they readied possible runs in 2020, but stood down after Inslee ran for a third term following his failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Even before Constantine’s announcement, his political operation was showing clear signs of winding down.
His reelection campaign raised just $3 in February, according to the latest filings with the state Public Disclosure Commission, with the money coming in from a single West Seattle donor. (He still has about $95,000 in his campaign fund, and $140,000 in a surplus account.)
A poll released this week also contained discouraging numbers for Constantine, showing him at just 7% support in a theoretical 2024 gubernatorial race, compared with 7% for Franz and 21% for Ferguson.
The poll also tested support for one Republican, finding 35% of those surveyed would support Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier for governor.
However, Dammeier said in an interview Friday he is not interested in running. “I’m flattered by the support,” he said, but added: “I am focused entirely on serving the people of Pierce County and don’t have any plans to run for governor in 2024.”
The poll of 874 likely 2024 voters, which assumed Inslee steps aside, was conducted by Public Policy Polling and sponsored by Northwest Progressive Institute.
In an interview Friday, Constantine said he wasn’t influenced by that poll. He said he made his decision last month and started telling his political team in late February.
He said he decided it was better to stay focused on his work as county executive, where he’s reached crucial stages on projects that he’s pursued for years.
“There is no better elected job in the state,” Constantine said. “[King County] has a third of the state’s population, half the state’s economy and a constituency that wants to do the right thing.”
“I’m not willing to set aside all that we’re achieving right now — the full-time work that I’m passionate about — in favor of full-time fundraising and campaigning,” he wrote in his email Friday.
He cited ongoing work, including chairing the Sound Transit board as the agency ramps up construction of its third phase. He also touted a proposal he recently unveiled to redevelop King County government’s eight-block downtown Seattle campus, including the jail and courthouse, potentially transforming some of the properties into commercial or residential buildings.
Constantine said Friday he is still raising political donations — just not for his own campaign.
He said his efforts have been focused on a proposed property tax levy for new mental and behavioral health crisis centers. That measure, which will go before voters next month (with ballots to be sent in by April 25), would raise as much as $1.25 billion over nine years to build five 24/7 walk-in crisis care centers to serve people with mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Inslee says he has not decided whether he’ll run again and is not expected to announce his intentions until after the current session of the state Legislature, at the earliest.
Constantine, 61, was elected county executive in 2009. He previously served on the Metropolitan King County Council and in the state Legislature, representing West Seattle.
His term as executive runs through 2025. He said he hasn’t made a decision about whether to run again.
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