Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee said Monday in Longview that the addition of Tea Party favorite Paul Ryan to the Republican national ticket is a boost for his chances in November.
In an hour-long interview with The Daily News’ editorial board, Inslee tied his GOP opponent Rob McKenna multiple times to the Romney/Ryan presidential campaign. He said McKenna and Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman Romney picked Saturday as the GOP vice presidential nominee, are too conservative for Washington.
“My opponent is part of the ‘Rob-Ryan-Romney’ plan to take the state backward,” said Inslee, a former Bainbridge Island congressman. “I’m happy to stand with President Obama, who’s going to win this state.”
In response, McKenna’s campaign said Inslee is taking an old page out of the playbook for Democrats in Washington, which last voted Republican in a presidential election in 1984.
“It’s a bit disappointing that the congressman continues to focus on issues outside the state ... and very little on the issues that matter to Washingtonians. I just don’t understand why a gubernatorial candidate would be focused on the presidential race like it seems he is,” McKenna campaign spokesman Charles McCray said in a telephone interview.
After trailing McKenna in the polls for most of last year, Inslee has enjoyed a recent surge and bested McKenna in the Aug. 7 primary, 47 percent to 43 percent. Inslee said he’s had to work harder to achieve name recognition than McKenna, who was first elected to statewide office in 2004 as attorney general.
“We feel real good about the position we’re in. But we were going to get up and work like a son of a gun, no matter what the result of the primary,” Inslee said.
So far, Inslee has spent about $4.6 million on the race, which will be decided at the Nov. 6 general election. McKenna has spent just over $4 million. However, McKenna holds a fundraising edge, having collected $7.7 million to Inslee’s $7.3 million.
Inslee stopped in Longview to introduce his new jobs plan, which includes creating a new state office focused on coordinating economic development. He said job creation is the best way to build the economy and general tax revenue to support education and other state programs. He said he supports universal access to early childhood education but offered no details on how to pay for it.
Inslee touched on other subjects during the interview, including:
• Proposed coal terminals. Inslee said he likes the jobs the terminals promise, but he’s wants to make sure environmental factors such as train congestion are addressed. He stopped short of calling for a massive, collective review of six proposed terminals in the Pacific Northwest, which two Washington state agencies, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have called for.
• Two-thirds majority for tax increases. Inslee said he does not support Tim Eyman-backed Initiative 1185 because it gives too much power to a minority of legislators.
• Marriage equality. Inslee said he will vote "approve" on Referendum 74, which asks voters to approve or reject the state’s new same-sex marriage law.
“I just don’t believe any politician ought to be able to tell anyone who to love and who to marry,” he said.