In what will come as a surprise to absolutely no one (not just because he teased it last week, but because it's been in the works for two or three years), WA-01 Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee formally announced today that he's running for Washington governor. Inslee kicked off his campaign with a speech at a biotech company in Seattle this morning, one that was heavily focused on jobs, especially green jobs (as fitting his environmental credentials) and jobs in new technologies.
Jay Inslee (D): 47 (41)
Rob McKenna (R): 44 (48)
Undecided: 9 (11)
Now here's the surprising part: today also gives us the first public poll giving Inslee a lead over all-but-certain Republican opponent Rob McKenna. Previous polls from SurveyUSA and PPP had given McKenna within-the-margin-of-error leads over Inslee, which, frankly, I'd expect at this point, given that McKenna, as Attorney General, is known statewide, while Inslee represents only 1/9 of the state, and also that McKenna has meticulously crafted the image of an old-school moderate Northwestern Republican for himself. (Notwithstanding the way he incinerated that image last year with one quick match-strike when he signed on to the multi-state Republican AGs' anti-HCR suit.)
Particularly surprising is that this poll comes from SurveyUSA, an automated pollster who've historically tended to lean in a pessimistic direction for Dems in Washington despite their best efforts to include cellphone users in the sample when polling the heavily wired state; case in point, their April poll of the race put McKenna ahead by 7. I'm not sure what would explain this big a shift, although a lot of Democratic-leaning locals who haven't thought about the race before probably got their first real exposure to Inslee in the last few weeks as the local media spotlight turned to him in the wake of Chris Gregoire's announcement that she wouldn't seek a third term. Inslee and McKenna are similarly well-liked, with 31/16 and 36/21 favorables respectively; Inslee's overall lead seems to come from a 19-point edge among self-described moderates.
Further down the ballot, we've already got two stories developing today in the race for the Democratic nod to fill the safely-blue suburban seat that Inslee leaves behind. State Rep. Roger Goodman, who filed to run in the 8th against Dave Reichert but who lives (under the current map) in the 1st, said that he'd filed in the 8th out of respect for Inslee but quickly clarified today that he's actually running in the 1st. And Nepal-born tech executive Darshan Rauniyar also announced his bid today; while he hasn't held elective office before, he's been active in the local party organization. They join state Rep. Marko Liias and ex-state Rep. Laura Ruderman.
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