McKenna’s regional showing lackluster

One of the best showings in this year’s primary belonged to a guy running for governor named Rob.

Not that Rob, the one you’ve been hearing about for months and seeing in a million dollars’ worth of television commercials the past couple of weeks.

It was the other Rob on the ballot, Rob Hill of Shoreline, a Democrat who spent just $150 and today is alone in third place in the nine-person primary.

He garnered a surprising 4 percent on election night and reached double digits in a handful of counties.

Hill bested Shahram Hadian of Everett, the conservative Republican whose tireless campaign loomed as a benchmark of dissent to the contest’s better known Rob — GOP frontrunner Rob McKenna.

To what does Hill ascribe the success in his first bid for office?

His simple platform: Slap another $10 tax on cigarettes to make them too expensive for young people to buy so they won’t start smoking.

“Its beauty is its simplicity,” he said. “It’s not a hard thing to wrap your head around.”

Another reason might be his name appeared first on the ballot and voters might have got him mixed up with the other party’s Rob.

That’s what McKenna and his brain trust should be counting on after they achieved a predicted, though arguably less-than-sparkling, effort Tuesday night.

Granted, it’s always an iffy proposition to forecast glee or gloom from a low turnout primary like Tuesday’s.

But in the gymnastics of the state’s electoral politics, winning the governor’s race carries a high degree of difficulty for Republicans who’ve not medaled in this event for three decades.

With a flawless performance required to capture gold this fall, an exhibition like the primary affords an opportunity to make an early impression on a wide audience of voters. Yet on the first night of ballot counting, McKenna didn’t stick his landing as solid as might have hoped.

He earned 43 percent and an appreciative round of applause from supporters. But that number is built on the strength of votes cast outside King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. He’s at a nod under 41 in Snohomish, nearly 44 in Pierce and 35 in King.

McKenna knows this November he must collect a majority of votes in Snohomish or Pierce or both counties and improve in King County to avoid a runner-up finish.

Though Democratic candidate Jay Inslee isn’t crowing about his nearly 47 percent tally, he and his fans couldn’t hide their smiles.

At this point, he’s sitting in roughly the same position as Democrat Gov. Christine Gregoire in 2008. Like her, he’s got President Barack Obama leading the ticket. She wound up with 53 percent. Even if the president isn’t igniting the same level of fervor as 2008 he’ll help not hinder Inslee.

Inslee’s also got the backing of Rob Hill whose anti-tobacco platform attracted a large enough following to make a difference.

And to earn him a bronze this election.

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

More in Local News

Fatal car crash reported on Highway 92 near Lake Stevens

The 3 p.m. accident and investigation stopped traffic in both directions near Machias Road.

Motorcyclist killed in crash had high level of THC

A motorcyclist had more than eight times the legal limit… Continue reading

Police: Driver threatens pedestrian, ends up in drug bust

Meth, cocaine and heroin were found in his car, along with a loaded pistol and cash, police say.

Son arrested for hitting father on head at Marysville home

The father grabbed a metal rod and struck his son in the head, too. Both needed medical treatment.

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Paine Field fire chief will be allowed to retire

In his letter, the airport director noted Jeff Bohnet was leaving while under investigation.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Mayor tries new tactic to curb fire department overtime

Stephanson says an engine won’t go into service when the only available staff would be on overtime.

Most Read