"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Separate, unequal, coy, but –

This candidate-in-action but not in announcement thing has worn pretty thin. Republicans no less than Democrats seemed irritated by it in the case of now-presidential candidate Fred Thompson. In the case of the Washington governorship, it seems no less peculiar.

Dave Postman of the Seattle Times took that on in a post (“My skepticism on the slippery slope to cynicism” – wow, a new verbal word game?) taking on the two prospective candidates for governor next year, Democratic incumbent Chris Gregoire and Republican challenger (?) Dino Rossi:

“Incumbent Gov. Christine Gregoire has nearly $3 million in her re-election account but says she’s not a candidate. She won’t announce, she says, because that would politicize her work with the 2008 Legislature. . . . Meanwhile, Republican Dino Rossi has resigned as president of his non-profit but is taking a lump sum payment as severance that will give him what he would earn through the end of October. That’s just about the time he says he’ll decide whether or not to run.”

Both of them say they’re not announced candidates. Yet, at least.

They aren’t entirely equivalent cases (we’ll make that point, even if Postman left it hanging). Gregoire’s stated intent to run (and it’s obviously more than a Larry Craig “intent”) is evident; she draws the line at a “formal” announcement of candidacy. Rossi’s line is further back. For public consumption, at least, he says he honestly hasn’t decided whether he will run, though for weeks and months Republicans around Washington high and low have maintained there’s no doubt that he will, and the state party would be shocked into cycle-long coma if he didn’t.

It’s silliness, yes. So we’ll cut the knot.

By recognizing this: Both Gregoire and Rossi are already registered as candidates for governor in 2008 in the records of the Public Disclosure Commission.

And wise they both were in doing that, because the PDC is stringent in its requirements about when a candidate has to file with them:

A person becomes a candidate for PDC purposes when he or she


does any of the following:
• receives contributions, makes expenditures, or reserves space or facilities with intent to promote his or her candidacy;
• purchases commercial advertising space or broadcast time to promote his or her candidacy;
• authorizes another person to take one of these above actions on his or her behalf;
• announces publicly that he or she is seeking office; or
• files a declaration of candidacy with the appropriate elections official.

That “first” is bold-faced and underlined in the PDC instructions. Both Gregoire and Rossi doubtless are listed with the PDC because either one or more of those actions have been taken, or might have been taken – and why risk the legal issues? (There are also, by the way, two little-known filers for governor as well: Republican Javier Lopez and Democrat James White.)

The PDC says they’re candidates. Henceforth, and until we see reason to do otherwise, so will we.

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