Nick Brown poses for a photo outside the U.S. Courthouse Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Seattle, Washington. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Nick Brown poses for a photo outside the U.S. Courthouse Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Seattle, Washington. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Ex-US attorney to face state senator in Washington AG race

Nick Brown announced Wednesday he’s running to be Washington’s next attorney general.

By Ed Komenda / Associated Press

SEATTLE — Nick Brown, who recently stepped down as U.S. attorney in Seattle, announced Wednesday he’s running to be Washington’s next attorney general, setting up a contest with state Sen. Manka Dhingra, a longtime prosecutor herself.

Brown, 46, served less than two years as the top federal prosecutor for western Washington before stepping down in June in anticipation of the campaign. He was the state’s first Black U.S. attorney.

The Democrat previously worked as general counsel to Gov. Jay Inslee, as a litigation partner at a prominent Seattle law firm and — in a less common qualification for the job — as a contestant on the second season of the reality show “Survivor,” which aired in 2001.

Dhingra, a Redmond Democrat who serves as deputy majority leader, is the only other candidate so far. She has been a senior deputy prosecutor in King County for the past 20 years and helped train police in crisis intervention.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who gained a national profile by challenging the travel ban and other policies of former President Donald Trump, kicked off an exploratory campaign for governor in May after Inslee said he wouldn’t seek a fourth term.

Dhingra and Brown each said they hope to build on Ferguson’s legacy and would work to crack down on gun violence, protect abortion access and stand up to corporations who take advantage of consumers.

“Under Bob Ferguson’s leadership, more and more people have realized the potential of this office and how it can positively impact people’s lives,” Dhingra said. “It’s important to have the next attorney general who is a fighter, who will stand up for people’s rights and ensure that we are protecting people and taking care of people.”

Brown, a former judge advocate general in the Army, served as Inslee’s general counsel from 2013-17 — a period when the state dealt with complex legal issues that included the governor’s moratorium on the death penalty and the establishment of a pioneering legal marijuana industry. The position gave him insight into the workings of the attorney general’s office, he said.

“What’s really important for this job is to be able to hit the ground running the very first day,” Brown said. “When I was a U.S. attorney, we had 150 employees and a $15 million budget — and I’ve been in charge and led there and led in the governor’s office and led in my time in the Army.”

Brown was an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle for six years before going to the governor’s office.

Brown said that as U.S. attorney, he sought to combat cybercrime, the fentanyl crisis, gun violence and human trafficking, while also emphasizing civil rights. He has called criminal prosecution a “blunt instrument” and suggested that justice also requires more creative approaches.

Dhingra cited her work on helping to establish veterans and mental health courts; sponsoring laws to ban assault weapons and ghost guns; and working to create strong privacy protections for sensitive reproductive and health care data.

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