Washington AG race eclipsed by gubernatorial contest

Chris Rizo May 19, 2008, 3:26pm

Rob McKenna

John Ladenburg

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline)-With the governor's race in Washington State taking center stage, down ballot races this election cycle may be getting short shrift, an analyst told Legal Newline.

While more than $10.6 million has poured into the race for governor between incumbent Christine Gregoire and Republican challenger Dino Rossi, less than $1 million has flowed into the attorney general's contest.

Running for Washington attorney general is incumbent Republican Rob McKenna and his Democratic challenger John Ladenburg, who ran unsuccessfully for his party's AG nomination about 16 years ago.

McKenna has raised $813,728 for his re-election bid against Ladenburg, the Pierce County Executive who has raised $148,962, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission, which handles campaign finance filings.

The amount of campaign cash the attorney general candidates are raking is no surprise to Todd Donovan, a political science professor at Western Washington University.

In Washington, the attorney general's race does not traditionally draw big money unless the race is targeted by the insurance industry, he told Legal Newsline on Monday.

If insurers start funneling money into the race, prompting rival groups to do the same, campaign coffers can get pretty big, Donovan said from his office in Bellingham, Wash.

"McKenna is probably going to win," Donovan said. "He is popular and a fairly a non-controversial incumbent; he's not going to raise the ire of insurance and business groups."

Ladenburg has criticized McKenna, a moderate Republican, for using the attorney general's office to boost his public profile at the expense of the Evergreen State's most pressing problems.

"I think the attorney general's office needs to be there to protect the views of Washington State citizens on privacy and choice, and I just don't think the current attorney general is doing that - or would do that," he said in an earlier interview with Legal Newsline.

Ladenburg has been endorsed by Gregoire, a former three-term attorney general.

For his part, McKenna has stood by his record of reducing domestic violence, combating consumer fraud, addressing the state's methamphetamine scourge.

"We've accomplished a lot in my first term, and we have a lot more to do," McKenna told LNL in an earlier interview. "These problems did not arise overnight and they're not going to disappear overnight."

McKenna also touts his office's 5-0 record in arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court during his administration and expanding his office's consumer protection division.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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