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If Inslee runs for gov

Jay Inslee

Jay Inslee

Horse’s Ass has an intriguing bit of political insider speculation, about the governor’s race in 2012 and possible fallout from one of the candidacies.

It starts this way: “Everybody knows that Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-01) has long had his eye on the governor’s mansion, and is widely expected to give up his House seat to run for our state’s top office in 2012.” Not sure what the sourcing on that is like, but the idea is interesting.

And the follow: “But who of note has his eye on Rep. Inslee’s coveted House seat, once it becomes vacant? Word is that noted travel writer and TV and radio personality Rick Steves is seriously considering giving up his globetrotting ways for an extended stay in the other Washington, and is already working the local Democratic circuit in preparation for a potential run.”

The evidence for Steves feels a little thin, but who knows?

As to Inslee, a Democrat, a couple of pieces of background seem in order, since he has specific political background in two geographic areas of interest.

In 1988 he ran for the state House and won, in a Yakima-area district – a hard get for a Democrat even then. In 1992 he was elected to the U.S. House from that central Washington district, also a tough go, and his loss in the 1994 Republican sweep was hardly an indicator of specific weakness. He moved to the Puget Sound after that and (after a primary-losing run for governor in 1996) ran for the U.S. House in his new turf, District 1, which includes a slice of King County but most takes in Kitsap and Snohomish – those latter mainly being swing suburban areas. He won by a hair in 1998, tossing out Republican incumbent Rick White. But since then he has become entrenched, and wins in landslides – Republicans haven’t even tried seriously the last few runs. (His six general election percentages in District 1, in order from 1998 to 2008: 50%, 55%, 56%, 62%, 68%, 68%).

Inslee would have ample appeal in King County generally; he would be for the most part their kind of liberal Democrat. He has worked key suburban areas with considerable success. And he would have some experience in, if not necessarily winning in rural areas, at least appealing to them enough to toss a little blue into the sea of red. he also has had the experience (albeit unsuccessful) of running for governor.

A strong prospect, if that materializes; you can imagine a second Inslee run for governor doing better than the first. A primary between he and Spokane Senator Lisa Brown would be fascinating.

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