By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
Republican Rob McKenna may be out of political office but he’s not done politicking.
The popular ex-attorney general, who narrowly lost the 2012 race for governor, unveiled a website Monday intended to provide a platform from which to inject his voice into the state’s ongoing political debates.
Dubbed Smarter Government Washington, it is a retrofitted version of McKenna’s campaign web page and the centerpiece is a blog for his opinions.
“Our purpose is to look for and then publicize examples and ideas that will make our state government smarter — because a more efficient and less expensive government will allow your tax dollars to go to the state’s highest priorities, starting with public education,” McKenna wrote in a blog about the venture.
The site also lets readers track the comings and goings of McKenna and his wife, Marilyn, through features entitled, “What’s up with Rob” and “Catch up with Marilyn.” Visitors also can contribute through an online fund raising effort to pay for the operation.
Randy Pepple, manager of McKenna’s gubernatorial campaign, has been hired to run the website. He emphasized Monday this is not intended as a foundation for a 2016 bid for the governor’s mansion.
“It is not a political campaign site,” Pepple said. “Rob wanted to have a platform to continue to remain involved in public policy debates.”
McKenna has repeatedly said he isn’t running for governor in 2016, and made the point again in a radio interview Monday, Pepple said. His focus is on his work with the private Seattle law firm he joined in January and his four children, Pepple said.
The leader of the Washington State Democratic Party derided the undertaking as self-serving.
“I don’t know if Rob McKenna is running in 2016. But I do know this website is appalling self idolatry,” party chairman Dwight Pelz said. “Rob, just go out and practice law and let us know in a year or two if you’re running again.”
Pelz also issued a press release Monday mocking the effort.
“Just last week my wife asked me, ‘Honey, what are Rob’s latest ideas for producing a leaner, more effective state government?” Pelz wrote. “Thank God now I have an answer for her, so I can get back to watching sports on TV.”
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org.