Sarah Palin (R)

Rob McKenna (R)

John Ladenburg (D)

SEATTLE (Legal Newsline)-Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has shown she can connect with Middle America and has the crossover appeal needed to help ensure a general election win for the Republicans, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna told Legal Newsline on Thursday.

Palin, a first-term Alaska governor, proved she was a "brilliant" pick for GOP presidential hopeful John McCain when she accepted her party's nomination in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday night, McKenna said.

"Governor Palin has considerable crossover appeal, and you saw that last night: small-town, blue collar, women and men who are attracted to her background because she is not someone from inside the Beltway," McKenna said, adding that Palin has brought a "freshness" to the ticket that he said is obviously lacking on the Democratic side.

Palin, who is ardently anti-abortion and staunchly supports gun owner rights, "solidifies and mobilizes the base of the Republican Party, which is critical," McKenna said.

By comparison, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama made a mistake in not tapping New York Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, McKenna said. Instead, Obama chose U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"Obama blundered in not choosing Hillary Clinton because Senator Clinton would have helped consolidate and mobilize their base," McKenna said. "There is no question even at the Democratic (National) Convention (last week) there were disaffected Clinton supporters who may not come back to support Obama in November."

The attorney general did concede that McCain took a "gamble" in picking Palin, 44, because she was not in the national spotlight before her nomination was announced Friday.

"It's a gamble any time you pick a running mate who is not already known to the public and the media, and it was a gamble to some extent because of her age," McKenna said. "But Senator Obama is gambling also with Senator Biden," known for his outspokenness.

McKenna, the Evergreen State's popular AG, also faces voters in November. He is being challenged by Democrat John Ladenburg, the Pierce County executive, who lost the Democratic primary for attorney general about 16 years ago.

In Washington's top-two primary last month, McKenna led Ladenburg by 14 points, beating his opponent in his own home town by a wide margin. McKenna also won King County, which includes Seattle, the state's biggest Democratic bloc.

"I don't remember the last time that a statewide candidate won King County," McKenna said.

Ladenburg "didn't win from his loss" in his previous run for attorney general, McKenna said, noting that his opponent's fundraising has been "anemic" this cycle as a result.

"He's running the same kind of extremely negative campaign this time," McKenna said. "He's once again trying to portray the attorney general's office as some sort of prosecutor's office, which it's not. Less than one-percent of my lawyers prosecute criminal cases."

McKenna added, "He's not connecting because he is not sending the right messages."

Ladenburg, a former prosecutor, has hammered McKenna for using the attorney general's office to boost his public profile. He points to the attorney general's appearance in public service announcements, which he says are more akin to campaign ads than PSAs about identity theft.

"They are corporate sponsored campaign ads trying to help cover up McKenna's failure to address the epidemic of identity theft. This is a clear and illegal use of public office for political campaigning, and a clear violation of Public Disclosure laws," Ladenburg said in a statement.

In Washington, neither the Democratic nor Republican parties have enough declared voters to carry an election. So, elections are largely determined by independent voters.

"This is not a Democratic state; this is a state where good candidates win if they have enough appeal," McKenna said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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