OLYMPIA — Taking a cue from the Grand Old Party’s four-day fete in Cleveland, consider the case Republican leaders in this state might make against Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee if given a convention pulpit from which to prosecute.
Just imagine — this is only imagination — Susan Hutchison, the chairwoman of the state Republican Party, is on stage. And she proceeds to deliver a speech, borrowing the rhythm but less than 7 percent of the verse from the Republicans’ rhetorical strongman, Chris Christie. It might go something like this:
“We welcome this opportunity to hold Governor Inslee accountable for his performance these past four years. We present our facts to you, the readers and the voters, before you answer this question in November: Should he stay or should he go?
“Let’s talk specifics. Employees in the Department of Corrections discovered in 2012 that prisoners were being released early by mistake. But it took three more years to fix. Inslee said he didn’t know and moved swiftly when he found out. His investigation concluded it was a big bureaucratic bungle. Really? Was it just a coincidence that the man Inslee chose to run the department quit weeks before the error became public?
“Here’s the real tragedy — and one that may one day cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Two people were killed in 2015 at the hands of convicted criminals who should have been behind bars.
“This fall, should he stay or should he go?
“Then there’s Western State Hospital. Inslee’s friends in Washington, D.C., threatened to end the flow of federal funds to the state’s largest psychiatric institution because it wasn’t a safe place for patients or employees. This year, two patients, one with a history of violent behavior, escaped for a few days. Thankfully, the escapees were found. Then Inslee fired the hospital CEO — a man hired for the job on his watch. Since then, Inslee cut a deal giving the feds a lot more say in how the hospital is run.
“There’s still an issue of getting mentally ill people evaluated and admitted. Judges and commissioners have repeatedly told Inslee his Department of Social and Health Services is taking too long to complete the evaluations. They’ve threatened to jail leaders of the agency and the hospital if the delays continue. This fall, should he stay or should he go?
“Let’s change course. Toll lanes on I-405. Sure, the Legislature created them when Inslee was in Congress. But his Department of Transportation botched the start-up. They’ve been restriping lanes and refunding tolls ever since. While you may save a few minutes driving south in the morning, going north through Bothell after work is worse than before.
“Thank gutsy Republican state senators for firing Inslee’s transportation secretary. This fall, should he stay or should he go?
“What about the environmental rules Inslee’s Department of Ecology is writing? He says they will lead to cleaner water, cleaner air and fight climate change. We say it will mean more regulations on business and higher prices for consumers.
“Finally, taxes. You remember in 2012 when candidate Inslee told reporters he’d veto ‘anything that heads the wrong direction and the wrong direction is new taxes.’ Since taking office, he’s proposed taxes on carbon emissions and capital gains. And Inslee signed the largest gas tax increase in the history of the state.
“We know exactly what four more years of Jay Inslee will bring. So one final time, this fall, should he stay or should he go?”
(Next week, when Democrats gather in Philadelphia, we’ll ponder arguments party members might lay out against Inslee’s presumptive Republican challenger, Bill Bryant.)