McKenna for governor

In baseball parlance, campaigning for governor is going to the show. No state office is freighted with more responsibility, more opportunity to do good or ill, or more discretion to contour the economic and political landscape. The best-of-all-possible governors (and that’s asking a lot) is a Venn diagram of executive savvy, judgment, backbone, a beautiful mind, and a sense of the possible.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna, one of the most talented lawmakers of his generation, reflects those qualities of leadership. He is a convincing choice for Washington governor in 2012.

As attorney general, McKenna has been a consumer watchdog, a hardliner on domestic violence, and an advocate for seniors subject to financial fraud. His executive mettle was tested when he remade the attorney general’s office into a leaner, more efficient operation (without marginalizing a very competent staff.) It’s a record of service that illustrates a command of the arcane but critical machinations of state government.

McKenna’s agenda and expertise align with the state’s most pressing challenges, including reviving the state’s once-robust higher education system. Like his gifted opponent, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, McKenna understands that innovation is tethered to a vibrant and seamless education system, spanning early learning to graduate school. Just as significant, McKenna recognizes the sacrifices and reforms required to achieve those K-12 and higher-ed benchmarks. There are hidebound interests that won’t take a shine to that. But a little reform, now and then, is a good thing.

Former Congressman Jay Inslee would also make a conscientious governor, and Washington voters are fortunate to have two heavyweights to pick from in November. Inslee’s focus includes promoting aerospace and clean technology, advancing workforce training, and improving the state’s K-12 and higher-ed systems. His knowledge of the state’s administrative silos and other minutia has vastly improved from earlier this year.

Inslee, like McKenna, pledges to change the ossified culture in Olympia. We hope that, if elected, Inslee keeps that promise. Washington needs a governor who is nimble and courageous enough to shake up the preserved-in-amber mindset of Olympia’s political class.

We all know that in the swirl of television and direct mail, voters get swayed by the most user-friendly commercials. Buyer beware, however: Campaigning and governing are often mutually exclusive. As voters, we should pick Washington’s next governor, Republican or Democrat, based on the issues and leadership of the candidate. That’s what Northwesterners did in 1964, voting in Republican Dan Evans and electing Democrat Lyndon Johnson. Nationalizing the gubernatorial race, a tempting strategy in a pro-Obama state like Washington, is a distraction from the compelling issues facing the state.

Washington voters benefit from two smart, qualified souls running for governor. The Herald Editorial Board recommends Rob McKenna.

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