Yeah, you. You boutique-tequila-swilling Capitol Hill hipsters with contrarian streaks. You old-timey Seattle liberals who pine for the mythical days of the "Dan Evans Republican." You Subaru-driving soccer moms who are too "independent-minded" to slavishly follow the SECB Cheat Sheet (see page 16). Republican Rob McKenna thinks you're stupid.
He thinks you're an idiot. He thinks you're a fucking moron. He thinks you're dumb enough to vote for him.
We know. We know how good it can feel to say you didn't vote a straight Democratic ticket, especially given how disappointing some Democrats can be. So if you need to scratch that ticket-splitting itch, show some love for Republican Bill Finkbeiner for lieutenant governor, who at least opposes his party's hateful social agenda. But don't vote for McKenna. Because you're not that stupid.
Say it with us: "I'm not as stupid as Rob McKenna thinks I am."
Rob McKenna has been running for governor his entire adult life. And his whole electoral strategy has always relied on tricking enough King County voters—voters like you—into believing he's not another one of those Republicans. McKenna doesn't want you to think he's one of those Romney/Ryan class-warfare-waging, Koch-sucking GOPers who wants to bust unions, repeal Obamacare, ban gay marriage, outlaw abortion, and unravel what remains of the social safety net, all in the service of cutting taxes on corporations and millionaires.
It is an electoral strategy that almost worked for Dino Rossi in 2004, and one that McKenna has been expertly executing for years. You may have seen those posters asking you to vote for President Obama, R-74, and Rob McKenna—McKenna opposes both President Obama and R-74—and it's clever messaging. It is also a complete and total fucking lie. And McKenna is praying that you're stupid enough to fall for it.
But you're not that stupid, are you?
No Republican can win statewide office while getting his ass kicked in King County.
While we account for only 30 percent of the statewide vote, it is our nearly two-to-one Democratic advantage that keeps Washington reliably, if modestly, blue. To win a statewide race, a Republican has to appeal to voters who routinely and regularly vote Democratic. In the 32 years since they last won the governor's mansion, Republicans have averaged only 36.8 percent of King County's gubernatorial vote.
Nothing better demonstrates the electoral hurdle King County poses for Republicans than Dino Rossi's two losing gubernatorial bids.
In 2004, Rossi shrugged off divisive social issues in an attempt to present himself to voters in King County as a competent fiscal manager. Asked about his stance on abortion, Rossi famously quipped, "I'm not running for the Supreme Court." An overconfident Chris Gregoire failed to use the opportunity to define her opponent, and Rossi's tabula rossi strategy fooled thousands of "Dinocrats."
Rossi captured 40.1 percent of the King County vote, the highest Republican percentage since 1984, a political era before the GOP had completed its transformation from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Lexus. It was enough to propel Rossi into a statistical tie with Gregoire.
Four years later, a wiser and more aggressive Gregoire campaign didn't make the same mistake. They made sure voters knew what kind of Republican Rossi really is—voters learned of his opposition to choice and environmental regulations, they learned of his support for cutting the state's popularly approved minimum wage—and, confronted with the real Rossi, the Dinocrats faded away. Despite a substantially larger electorate, Rossi won 25,000 fewer King County votes in 2008 than he had just four years before. Gregoire won with a comfortable seven-point statewide margin.
Were you one of the 25,000 King County voters who cast a ballot for Rossi in 2004, only to think better of it four years later? Rob McKenna not only wants your vote, he is counting on it. And McKenna has proved he can win over King County voters before. If McKenna gets 42 percent of the vote in King County, it's likely a toss-up; if he wins 45 percent, McKenna is a shoo-in. That may seem like a high hurdle given recent history, but it's totally doable for a candidate who scored 45.8 percent of the county vote in his 2004 attorney general's race and 53.6 percent in 2008.
Let's be clear: King County voters overwhelmingly vote for Democrats because we overwhelmingly reject the Republican agenda. So McKenna's task is to convince you that he is a "different kind of Republican," one who can help lead his party back to a more moderate political stance.
But to find the real McKenna, you need look no further than your ballot.
Marriage equality? McKenna opposes marriage equality.1 Now and forever. "Because it's based in faith, it could never change," McKenna told the Yakima Herald in May of his staunch opposition to gay marriage. McKenna isn't voting for marriage equality, but he's hoping that supporters of marriage equality in King County are stupid enough to vote for him.
And it's a faith that clearly informs his actions in office. When his assistant attorneys general were tasked with assigning Referendum 74 a ballot title, they drafted prejudicial language that included the phrase "redefine marriage" (a phrase McKenna himself has used in describing the law), a poll-tested talking point promulgated by the gay-bashing National Organization for Marriage. Does that sound like a different kind of Republican? A Thurston County judge had to step in and replace the ballot title with more neutral language, blocking McKenna's efforts to assist anti-gay- marriage campaigners.
Initiative 1185, Tim Eyman's latest oil- industry-backed effort to require a two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes? McKenna is for it.2 And not just as a matter of policy. In defending the provision from a recent constitutional challenge, McKenna's office bizarrely argued that the results of a referendum should trump the state Constitution.3
Does that sound like a different kind of Republican?
And of course, in the most important item on the ballot, McKenna no doubt supports Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan—though he lacks the balls to come out and say it—and, just as clearly, the vast majority of voters in King County would regard a Romney/Ryan win as catastrophic.4 McKenna was also the Washington State chair for the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008.
Does that sound like a different kind of Republican?
On issue after issue, McKenna is the exact same kind of Republican candidate that King County voters have rejected year after year after year. Marijuana legalization? McKenna opposes it.5 Charter schools? McKenna is for them.6 Choice? McKenna does not support the Reproductive Parity Act, a bill that would have merely required insurers to cover maternity and reproductive services. McKenna's fellow Republicans in the state legislature managed to kill the Reproductive Parity Act in the last session. If the state house and senate manage to pass the bill next year, Governor Rob "Different Kind of Republican" McKenna would veto it.7
McKenna is a different kind of Republican in one respect. You will never catch McKenna talking about "legitimate rape" or denying climate change science or evolution. I'm guessing McKenna probably wouldn't force a 14-year-girl to bear her rapist-uncle's anencephalic baby. (Maybe. McKenna says he supports legal abortion "within certain parameters," but he hasn't told us exactly what those parameters are. Like Romney and his budget numbers, McKenna wants us to trust him on this issue without providing us with the details.) So you could say that McKenna is different from other Republicans: He's not as stupid as, say, Todd "Legitimate Rape" Aiken. McKenna, for all we know, may agree with Aiken. But he's not dumb enough to say so out loud.
You want more?
This is a man who describes conservative columnist/apologist David Brooks as a "liberal." This is a man who told the Snohomish County Republican Women's Club in October 2010 that Barack Obama is "farther to the left of center... than any American president we have ever seen." McKenna then doubled down: "Farther to the left than FDR."
Barack Fucking Obama—who lifted his health care plan from conservative think tanks and the Republican nominee for president—is farther to the left than FDR. Really?
Rob McKenna is a man who describes public employee unions—teachers, cops, fire fighters—as "dangerous."8
You want more? Let's look at McKenna's record as attorney general.
McKenna was at the center of an effort by Republican state attorneys general to overturn Obamacare.9 The Supreme Court rejected the bulk of McKenna's shoddy constitutional arguments. But he did help get one provision scrapped: The court ruled that states can opt out of the crucial Medicaid expansion provisions, and McKenna has expressed every intention of exercising this option if he becomes governor. That's 350,000 additional low-income Washingtonians who would be denied health insurance coverage should McKenna win election.10 (A 2008 Families USA study estimated that 380 working-age Washingtonians die each year due to lack of insurance.)
In 2005, while he was defending the state, in his role as attorney general, from a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of Governor Gregoire's election, McKenna publicly thanked the right-wing Building Industry Association of Washington for helping to fund the suit. (No conflict of interest there!)
Rob McKenna, the attorney general in perhaps the most environmentally conscious state in the nation, had to be sued by the Department of Natural Resources to provide the legal services necessary to defend sensitive state lands.11 This is an attorney general who lauds the will of the people, but who attempted to subvert our popularly approved minimum-wage law by bizarrely reinterpreting the word "by" in the service of denying a 12-cent increase in the minimum wage—an official attorney general opinion so fanciful that the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries took the rare step of simply ignoring it.12
"But what about education," you may ask? Hasn't McKenna promised to spend billions more on education than even Jay Inslee, his Democratic opponent? Sure. But just like a Republican, McKenna has promised not to raise taxes to pay for it. Where will that money come from?
Even those deceptive posters absurdly urging you to vote for Obama, R-74, and McKenna should give you a clue as to what sort of Republican McKenna really is, if you look at who is funding them: the reliably pro-Republican/anti-worker Washington Restaurant Association. High on the WRA's political agenda: lowering the minimum wage and fighting mandatory sick leave laws.
That's the sort of company McKenna keeps. Republican company.
If it walks like an elephant, talks like an elephant, and shits all over working people and sick people and women and gays like an elephant... it's a fucking elephant.
Republicans aren't a bunch of dickless appeasers like their Democratic counterparts. If McKenna wins in November, even by the tiniest of margins, he will become Washington's first Republican governor in three decades. He will not only claim a mandate, but he will govern like he has one. And as a red governor in a blue state, McKenna will also instantly jump to the top of the short list of Republican presidential contenders for 2016.
But this will only happen if voters in King County are just as dumb as Rob McKenna thinks we are.
We're not that dumb. We don't think you're that dumb.
Vote for Inslee.
1. Jay Inslee, his Democratic opponent, was an early supporter of marriage equality.
2. Inslee is voting against I-1185, saying it violates “democratic principles.”
3. Inslee, an attorney, believes the two-thirds provision is clearly unconstitutional.
4. Inslee and President Barack Obama share Washington State campaign headquarters.
5. Inslee will vote no on marijuana legalization, too, but unlike McKenna, Inslee says he would defend the law if passed.
6. Inslee opposes charter schools.
7. Inslee has been a champion of reproductive rights, and he is endorsed by NARAL and Planned Parenthood.
8. Inslee is the overwhelming choice of organized labor.
9. Inslee helped draft Obamacare, inserting Medicare provisions crucial to Washington State.
10. Inslee will fully implement the Medicaid expansion, saying it will save the state millions of dollars and hundreds of lives.
11. Inslee is endorsed by every environmental group in the state and literally wrote the book on clean energy: 2007’s Apollo’s Fire.
12. In Congress, Inslee has consistently voted in favor of raising the federal minimum wage.