Washington Governor Jay Inslee will be up for re-election in 2016, and the presumption is that he will run for re-election.  However, who is likely to be the Republican nominee that challenges him for Governor of the State of Washington?

Washington is a solid Democratic state, and Republican candidates for Governor have been rejected at the ballot box over and over again for the last few decades. The Republican Party seems clueless about what to do about that.  They keep recycling the same anti-tax, anti-government message every election year, and they keep losing most state-wide races.  I have no problem with that.  I say let them keep failing.  That said I cannot help but to speculate what Republican will run against Inslee for the Governor of Washington in 2016.

Republican Nominee for Washington Governor in 2016? 

2016 is a long time a way of course.  Potential candidates will not make a decision to run or not run for another two years or more. However, it is a fun conversation for political junkies in a slow election year.  Jerry Cornfield, Herald Columnist, listed some of his guesses about who will run for Governor of the State of Washington against Inslee.  He quotes Rob Mckenna as saying he will not run a second time.

I have made some predictions of my own.  I am betting that Dave Reichert, Congressman and Retired King County Sheriff,  will be the 2016 Republican Nominee for Governor of Washington for reasons I listed below.  I don’t think others like Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rob McKenna will want to be the Republican nominee for Governor.

If you’re a Republican with thoughts of running for governor in 2016 know this: Rob McKenna will not stand in your way.

He’s told insiders of the Grand Old Party he’s not interested in a rematch with Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to whom he lost by a couple percentage points in November.

That’s not to say he won’t change his mind.




Who will be the party’s torchbearer in 2016 if McKenna isn’t?

Republican Congressman Dave Reichert for Washington Governor?

The former King County sheriff is in his fifth term in Congress from whence Inslee came. Reichert could be the 8th Congressional District representative for life but his sights are on something grander. Most figure it’s the U.S. Senate though running the state might be too attractive to pass on.

Dave Reichert is ambitious.  Of course, everyone on the list is.  However, there are different kinds of ambition.  As Sheriff, Dave Reichert seemed to have particularly enjoyed the public attention that came from his office solving the King County Green River murder (although Reichert’s role is dubious).  That is the kind of attention that only a person elected to an executive office is usually able to enjoy.  As a congress person, he is just one of hundreds in Washington D.C.  I am betting that he is hungry for a brighter spotlight.
I disagree with Jerry Cornfield.  I think it is the Washington Governor’s Office is what Dave Reichert wants.  Some may think that a position in Congress is more prestigious than Governor, but you just are not in the center of the spot light as you are in the Governor’s Office.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Washington Governor?

She is in her fifth term and is chairwoman of the GOP caucus making her the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress. She enjoys the national stage more than that of Olympia where she spent four terms as a state lawmaker. That might be reason enough for her to abstain from the governor’s race.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers will probably stay in the U.S. House.  She seems really comfortable there, and it has been very good for her career wise.  I get the impression that her party advanced her to the Chair of the House Republican Conference mainly for the reason of  claiming her as a token woman in their leadership that is otherwise entirely made up of men. McMorris seems to enjoy that role and she seems quite comfortable in the U.S. House of Representatives. Despite the speculation, I really doubt if she will run for Governor.  Also, east side candidates for governor have not fared as well as west-side candidates. However, if in the unlikely chance we decided to run for the Gubernatorial seat she might fair better than the typical Eastern Washington candidate simply because of her high profile status as a national politician.

However, I don’t think the Republican House Caucus will advance her any farther in the House leadership.  The Republican Party and especially Republicans in Congress are still too much of an old boy network.  If (when) she realizes this, she will be more likely seek opportunities in the private sector rather than run for governor.  Perhaps it will be for Washington governor as the Republican nominee, but probably not in 2016.  I think she will stay where she is for a while.

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler for Governor of Washington as the Republican Nominee?

Herrera BeutlerShe’s 34, in her second term and clearly a rising star for the party. A 2016 contest might be too soon for her career. Plus, her announcement Tuesday that her unborn child has a serious medical condition requires such talk be put on hold because her family comes first.

I just cannot see Jaime Herrera Beutler as the Republican candidate for Washington Governor. Can you? That does not mean that she will not run.  However, I don’t think she is ready and I bet she knows it.   She is of course a protégée of Cathy McMorris Rodgers.  If on an off chance McMorris runs, Jaime Herrera Beutler would not.  She represents a swing district, so we may not see her around for that long as a U.S. Representative.

State Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island?

.Litzow is a moderate on fiscal and social issues though you might not realize it because he’s refused to break ranks with his conservative caucus to pass a bill he co-sponsored on abortion rights. A former public school teacher, his strongest suit is education which is a proven winning issue with voters.

No comment. I just don’t know enough about the guy.  Any comments from readers?

State Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond for Govenor?

.Hill is the lead budget writer for the Senate Majority Coalition, an impressive assignment for a freshman senator. He’s also a cancer survivor. That combination — knowledge of numbers and compelling personal story — generally adds up to electoral success. The question for Hill is whether he’s ambitious enough to seek the job.

Same as above.  I just don’t know enough about Andy Hill.  Tell me what you think.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner for Washington Governor?

mbAmbition is not a problem for Baumgartner who took on U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell in 2012 and lost badly. This session he’s in the loop for writing budgets and setting policy for the state’s universities, gaining knowledge and making contacts which could prove useful should higher office beckon.

It was a really smart move for State Senator Michael Baumgartner to run against U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell in 2012.  No one thought he had a real chance of winning so when he lost it did not hurt his future prospects.  He did break the 40% barrier so many were inclined to believe he ran a decent race. The best part of this for Michael Baumgartner was that he increased his name recognition and donor base and gained experience campaigning a state-wide race.

However, if he ran as Republican for Governor of Washington and lost as badly as he did against Cantwell, he would not necessarily continue to reap the same benefits.  You cannot loose badly over and over and still be respected as a candidate by your party.  He is smart enough to know that.

If he runs, it will be a calculated risk in this regard.  Another big loss would hurt his career.

Also, Michael Baumgartner comes into politics from an international policy background.  State government may not interest him as much.  It is hard to say, but I think he will stay in the state legislature for a few more years. He is probably eyeing McMorris’s congressional seat.  Federal races seems more his wheelhouse that state.

My prediction is that he will not run for governor in 2016 for Washington Governor.  Other Republicans will be more interested in being the nominee.

Three years from now

We got plenty more time to speculate.  A lot will happen between now and the primary election in 2016.  Careers will be made and lost.  Scandals will hit the headlines.  Plenty fodder for us political junkies. Enjoy.