OLYMPIA — Turns out state schools chief Randy Dorn doesn’t want to be governor after all.
Dorn said Thursday he won’t challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee just days after insisting he was a sure-bet to enter the race as an independent and focus the campaign on the incumbent’s failure to ensure public schools are adequately funded.
The two-term Superintendent of Public Instruction said he had done the political math and saw a path to winning in November. But he said he decided late Tuesday night he didn’t really want all the duties that come with the job and will retire at the end of his term as originally planned.
“You have to be all in — your brain, your heart, your gut,” he said. “I don’t want to be responsible for the Department of Corrections and I don’t want to be responsible for I-405 and the people getting ticked off at paying $8 tolls and going 5 mph. I don’t want to be working on how to fix Western State Hospital.”
What Dorn wants — and the issue that fueled five months of him promoting a potential run — is to see the financing of Washington’s public education system overhauled to comply with all the Supreme Court directives in the McCleary school funding case.
Time and again in recent months he’s criticized Inslee for not putting forth a plan for meeting the McCleary mandates by a 2018 deadline. He’s also been critical of Bill Bryant, the major Republican challenger, for not offering an adequate alternative.
In the last couple weeks he held private talks with Inslee and Bryant on the subject.
“I had good conversations with both. I’m hopeful,” he said. Neither Inslee or Bryant attempted to talk him out of running, he said.
Dorn did not endorse either one though he did offer more supportive comments of Inslee.
“Personally, I believe the governor is working harder and going to work harder to understand all the complexities of McCleary,” Dorn said.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;