AFL-CIO backs Inslee over McKenna for Washington governor


The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, has endorsed Democrats Jay Inslee for Washington governor, Bob Ferguson for attorney general, and Maria Cantwell for re-election as U.S. Senator.

The decision to endorse was ratified by delegates to a Feb. 9 legislative conference in Olympia, and comes quite early in the election calendar: Candidates won’t officially file for office until May 14, and the primary is not until August. Washington has an open “top-two” primary, in which the two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the November general election ballot.

Early action was taken because the stakes are high for statewide races, said WSLC spokesperson David Groves, and because it’s clear who the candidates are. State attorney general Rob McKenna is the only well-known Republican to have announced for governor, and several polls have shown him to be ahead of Inslee.

Inslee has a lifetime rating of 89 percent from the national AFL-CIO for his seven terms in Congress — the last six of which he represented Washington’s First Congressional District (North of Seattle). [One area of disagreement: Inslee, like all of Washington’s Congressional delegation, is a free trader. He voted for NAFTA in 1993 and all but two NAFTA-style trade treaties since then.] He ran for Washington governor once before, in 1996, and came in fifth in the Democratic primary.

Chris Gregoire, Washington’s current governor, is not running for a third term.

The race for Washington attorney general will be a match between two members of the King County Council: Ferguson, a Democrat; and Reagan Dunn, a Republican. Dunn, son of former Washington Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, is named for then-California governor Ronald Reagan.

WSLC spokesperson David Groves said the labor movement hasn’t always considered the attorney general’s office as a priority, but McKenna’s two-term tenure has shown what a labor opponent can do in that office: He joined a multi-state lawsuit seeking to overturn Obamacare and tried to block an automatic minimum wage wage increase that voters approved.

Cantwell is not expected to have a tough time against her opponent, a one-term Republican state representative from Eastern Washington.

Groves said no Republican candidates accepted WSLC’s invitation to speak to delegates or returned WSLC’s candidate questionnaire.

WSLC will decide further political endorsements at a convention in May.


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