Content Gregoire will only go if Obama really needs her

Former Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire seemed a lock for a gig in President Barack Obama’s administration when she left office in January.

Obama had plenty of cabinet seats to fill and Gregoire seemed qualified to sit in most of them, given her resume.

But those options dwindled this week when Obama named a new secretary of Energy and an administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Gregoire was rumored to be under consideration for both.

She is not upset about it. In fact, it sounds like it’s going to take a bit of a presidential shove to get her to accept work in the other Washington.

“I’m happy. Right now I want to be with my family,” Gregoire said Tuesday after chewing the fat with three other former governors for an upcoming TV special.

She’s reconnecting with family after 20 years of around-the-clock duty as an elected official. She’s got a standing weekly date to baby-sit her granddaughter and said it will require quite a lot for her to break it.

“The conversation I had with the president was if something comes up where you absolutely need me” then she would serve, she said.

Obama is looking for new secretaries of commerce, transportation and labor, as well as a trade representative. Gregoire’s eyes didn’t light up when asked about those positions.

“There was nothing I wanted to leave my family for,” she said.

— — —

What a difference a few months can make in politics.

Last fall, Republican John Koster couldn’t get much help from the national GOP in his battle with Democrat Suzan DelBene for a seat in Congress.

Now those same folks he approached in the National Republican Congressional Committee are all excited about unseating DelBene in 2014.

On Wednesday, NRCC leaders targeted her for defeat and bought a tiny Google ad to kick off what they imply will be an ongoing campaign in the coming months.

Why is DelBene attracting their attention?

First, the 1st Congressional District, which includes areas of east Snohomish County, is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. This means each election should be close and every incumbent, regardless of party, is at risk.

Second, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee tacitly acknowledged this when it included DelBene in its vulnerable incumbent protection program known as Frontline.

DelBene wore it as a badge of honor in a fundraising letter this week.

“A select group of Democratic members are chosen to be a part of this program, but with that comes a stark realization: My re-election will be challenging, and even our national party agrees that we need to start now to build a strong campaign for 2014,” she wrote.

Republicans seized on her inclusion in the program.

“We share Suzan DelBene’s enthusiasm in being named to the Democrats’ vulnerable list and look forward (to) helping in her transition from ‘endangered incumbent’ to ‘former congresswoman’ come Election Day 2014,” a NRCC spokeswoman said in a statement.

What kind of help they’ll provide isn’t clear. But any amount of energy they expend will likely be more than they did to keep her out of office.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at Contact him at 360-352-8623 or

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