It's not surprising that this happened. But the timing is a little suprising—a month and a half before the primary? more than four months before the general? the day after the Supreme Court's health care decision?—and so is the extent to which the Seattle Times' endorsement is at odds with the policy analysis within that same endorsement.
In the end, for the Times, it all seems to hinge on the fact that Rob McKenna is from Washington State and has more "local knowledge" than Inslee. (Inslee is also from Washington State, by the way, but gets dinged by the Times for working a lot of recent years in Washington, D.C., while representing a Washington State district.) Of Inslee, the Times writes:
He went to Washington, D.C. For the past 13 years he has been a congressman, which is not a management position. He has the right positions on reforming the financial system, limiting the consolidation of media companies and opposing the pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has a stronger vision about fighting global warming than McKenna does.
So. Inslee is better on financial reform, better on media consolidation, better on foreign wars, better on the environment, and basically—as the Times writes later—the same as McKenna on education. He also happens to agree with the Times in its support of gay marriage (unlike McKenna). But! But!
But Inslee has not been here. He does not have the deep knowledge of what has been done and not done here, for what reasons, and by whom, and what the consequences have been.
I love a good policy analysis in an endorsement. But, call me crazy, I think it should support the conclusion. If the whole thing's just going to hinge on a nativist assessment of who has more "local knowledge"—well, then why bother with a policy analysis at all?