Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Rob McKenna: a non-partisan endorsement

Post by Brian O'Neill on Oct. 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm with 19 Comments »
October 8, 2012 8:48 am

In my former police department the television in the break room, like the police officers themselves, worked 24/7. Sporting events, sitcoms, even nature shows were acceptable programming, but when someone switched over to one of those loud political commentary channels (MSNBC, Fox News, take your pick) I headed for the door.

It’s not that I don’t care about politics. The problem is that when we restrict ourselves by partisanship – red or blue, conservative or liberal –  our voting choices become too narrow, too divisive. Selecting a candidate by the qualifier (R) or (D) is also no guarantee that the winner possesses the ability to advance the party’s agenda. That is why I cast my votes for individuals, rather than political parties, who demonstrate superior leadership, have the clearest vision for the future, and possess the strongest intellect.

In the next few weeks we will be voting on candidates who will most certainly face significant challenges in the coming years. One of the more important and hotly contested elections this November is the gubernatorial race pitting Rob McKenna (R) against Jay Inslee (D). As I have mentioned before, I firmly believe that our State Attorney General, Rob McKenna, is the best choice for governor.

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna/ Washington State Attorney General, Rob McKenna.

Here’s why. I met Mr. McKenna three years ago when he spoke at the Tacoma YWCA women’s shelter. He had just delivered a speech to a tough and demanding audience that included the YWCA director and staff, as well as advocates, survivors, and volunteer committee members (including myself). The Attorney General spoke with an eloquence and passion that simply blew the socks off a group normally at odds with the politics of the GOP. If he changed any minds (which he most certainly did), it was due to his obvious commitment to protecting the lives and rights of victims of domestic violence. His words and deeds resonated.

After his speech, I had the audacity to ask for a favor: Would he speak at a domestic violence event I was organizing at the Regional Justice Center in Kent? As a busy elected official, the normal response would be “How many people are attending?” (about 50); “Will there be news media?” (doubt it); “Am I the keynote?” (absolutely). Instead, his only reply was an immediate and unequivocal, “Of course!”

One year later, in a different room on a different topic, Rob McKenna put on another exercise in leadership. It was in the sound room at TVW, the legislative news station in Olympia, and Mr. McKenna was being grilled on his sponsorship of a controversial anti-gang bill then wending its way through the legislature. I was waiting my turn as a panel member for the subsequent discussion, wondering what the Attorney General might say on a topic in which I possessed years of training and experience. He did not disappoint – Mr. McKenna’s answers displayed a depth of knowledge normally reserved for those who spend their days (or nights) in my profession. I listened and learned.

How did he pick up so much on this one topic? As he has done on so many other causes, Mr. McKenna went to where the problems were the most dire. He immersed himself in those communities around our state where gang violence has peaked, and then he spoke to everyone: victims, cops, civic leaders and citizens. In his TVW interview he shared those conversations, cited the bleak statistics he had collected, and explained his legislative solution. It was impressive, to say the least.

In the last three years I have heard Rob McKenna speak several times. At each event our State Attorney General has shown me, in word and in deed, that as an elected official he is committed to public safety and victims’ rights, to K-12 and higher education, to fiscal responsibility and a balanced state budget. His performance, not his party affiliation, is the reason I will be casting my vote for Rob McKenna in November.

I think he would be a fantastic governor.

Leave a comment Comments → 19
  1. Brian,
    That is why I research the candidates before voting. Mr. McKenna has proven to be a thoughtful politician and will receive my vote as well. I have never voted using the party line, the best qualified candidate gets my vote.

    Gregg M.

  2. And your choices for other postions during this election are?

  3. Brian O'Neill says:

    Thanks for the comments. The reason I chose to openly endorse Rob McKenna was based on personal impressions I made over several meetings. Since I have not met candidates for other offices, I would not be comfortable making an endorsement for those races.

  4. pjizant says:

    Ahh…how easy it is to fall for a political candidate on their platitudes. Now for some background. I was at that board meeting at the YWCA Pierce County because I was a board member. By the way, the agency is not the Tacoma YWCA women’s shelter. For the record, the agency name is YWCA Pierce County and it serves all citizens in Pierce County. Anyhoo, my memory is McKenna talked a great game but delivered nada. And hey, you know it’s not like there weren’t ample chances to deliver real solutions with real funding streams behind it…but like all politicians it’s talk, talk, talk as a political campaign strategy, then deliver nothing. To wit: McKenna introduced legislation in the 2009 session that would increase protection for victims of the worst domestic abusers by requiring courts to consider their full criminal record, including past misdemeanor convictions, at sentencing for felony crimes. Current state sentencing guidelines do not factor misdemeanor convictions into felony sentences except in traffic crimes. The law would apply to about 10 percent of domestic abusers — the worst of the worst. So far so good. But ya know what happened? The legislation failed to pass in the 2009 session, in part because of concerns about the cost to the corrections system of tougher sentences for domestic abusers. So yeah, introduce all the legislation in the world but for heaven sakes, don’t introduce something that won’t be funded and then tell me McKenna is a big champion providing solutions for DV victims. Did he line up lots of co-sponsors? Did he identify a funding stream that would make this legislation a reality and save women and families? Nope. Where was the funding stream going to come from? Half solutions and wasted life units. DV families need entire solutions fast.

    Ok, next up. A new law was passed in March 2012 that increases protections for victims of DV. The measure sponsored by Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, stiffens penalties for violating no-contact orders and makes it harder for abusers to locate their fleeing victims. The new law (House Bill 2363) requires courts and others to respect the confidentiality of information that would allow perpetrators of domestic violence to locate their victim’s residence, employer, school, or place of refuge. Maliciously releasing confidential information about the location of a domestic violence program for any purpose other than required by a court hearing would be a gross misdemeanor— punishable by up to 364 days in jail. The law also increases the penalty for violating no-contact orders in harassment cases from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor, and requires defendants who are arrested for violating anti-harassment protection orders to appear in person before a judge within one working day after the arrest.

    Courts that have probable cause will also be able to issue or extend no-contact orders even if the defendant fails to appear at arraignment. So where was McKenna on this legislation? Out front publically supporting Goodman’s bill in a very public way? (crickets) That’s right…not a single public word can be found online that demonstrates McKenna’s support for this no effective legislation. Where was McKenna at that time? In bed with all the other crazy GOP AGs suing the feds over the Affordable Care Act that, thankfully, survived the Supremes after challenges by McKenna and his type. This, the very solid federal legislation that victims and families need to escape their abusers and move forward with their lives. And don’t even get me started on McKenna’s plans for public education. His “reform” plans have privatization and raid the public purse all over it. My vote goes to Inslee.

  5. Brian O'Neill says:

    Thanks for your comment, pjizant. I apologize for not properly identifying the YWCA’s title, but I was trying to put a familiar face to it for readers unfamiliar with the formal title. I have gone into greater detail on the YWCA’s many good works in past columns (maybe you read those, maybe you didn’t).

    As far as the speech, it appears that we heard two different messages. I heard a compassionate speaker who has gone on to win my independent vote based on his past efforts, quite an impressive resume from a DV standpoint. If you are wondering why his legislative efforts did not pan out so well, the answer is partisan politics. His bills, including the gang bill I alluded to, were sabotaged by a Democratic bloc. That was pointed out to me from people on both sides of the aisle, and is only further proof that partisan politics is not healthy for our electorate.

    Lastly, I would ask you a question – are you a registered Democrat (as your comments certainly suggest) or are you, like me, an independent voter seeking truth spoken by the candidate of your choice? A yes answer might suggest some bias on your part, but if you choose not to answer please know that at least we agree on DV matters (if not politics in general).

  6. pjizant says:

    DV victims, their children and those that serve them don’t need another compassionate speaker, Brian. We’ve heard plenty of compassionate speakers, men of all stripes that want our votes as woman, make promises and deliver nothing. In fact, we don’t need a Governor that will abusively snap at a questioner and tell her to “get a job” as he did last Spring. I don’t care what party she works or volunteers for. Leaving aside the fact that as a candidate for public office McKenna should expect to be asked questions by people who aren’t supporters, and leaving aside the fact that he can, in fact, take positions on proposed bills, and leaving aside the fact that the woman was being honest (hiding the tape recorder would have been dishonest), McKenna’s answer was rude, contemptuous, impolite with just the sort of venom you come to expect from an abuser: This is the sort of thing that suggests McKenna has a short fuse and may not be ready for prime time. Guess where else women see short fuses? In abusers as their hand smacks a face in front of children that leaves bruises on a mother and teaches violence. And, of course, it wasn’t just that. He called the cops, the darn *cops* on a Democratic Party “tracker” who was trying to film his appearance at a King County Young Republicans event, yelling at him, “You need to put away the camera. Now!” And he had the same tracker *forcibly removed* from his campaign kickoff announcement last June. That’s not compassionate Brian, that abusive public behavior. So hey, you saw Mr. Compassionate. Many of the rest of us saw something else. What you didn’t hear at the YW was the many private conversations thereafter where so many of us saw his appearance for what it was. Single issue politicking far in advance of announcing his run for Governor which we all knew was coming but means nothing. But hey, I’m glad you found him knowledgeable about legislative solutions to reduce gang violence. Tell me, did he indicate a source of revenue for it at all? All the legislative proposals in the world don’t mean diddly without the do-re-mi $$.

  7. Brian O'Neill says:

    I’m afraid I know nothing about the incident to which you are alluding and thus can’t comment on it. If it happened in that fashion that is unfortunate, but I do find the idea of a rival party member intentionally interrupting the function of a legitimate party function (R or D) to be rude behavior. As a police officer I have been called to remove disruptive people from private gatherings on many occasions – I really had no problem with my role in those cases.

    As for the gang legislation, the revenue stream was very minimal as I understood it. It simply created new criminal statutes that made certain gang behavior illegal and allowed police to remove gang members from locations where their activities created the most violence and victimization. Its demise was a result of partisan politics, pure and simple. Of course, I understand that goes both ways.

  8. wyecoyote says:

    Isn’t Inslee on a book tour?

  9. Brian O'Neill says:

    Sorry, I only have so much free time, and I give it all to the TNT.

    I did check out the video on the Seattle Times site, though. I was actually impressed by McKenna’s handling of what was clearly a pushy partisan operative. He politely asked her to turn off the recorder, which is his right because it is of course illegal to record in WA without a 2 party consent. His remarks to her were completely justified because she was, in fact, being dishonest about her role.

    In short, what you pass off as “bullying behavior” I view as a polite but firm response to a rude political ploy. If Mr. Inslee behaved in similar fashion I would say the same thing.

  10. wyecoyote says:


    Don’t worry about pjizant. That person represents what is wrong with many voters today. They will only vote for the person that had a D or R next to their name. Pjizant uses activist attacks on McKenna as something wrong with him not the activist. Pjizant also talks a good game about typical politician saying what you want to hear even though Inslee does just that. But hey what does one expect. You provide your reasons and thoughts about politics and those with blinders will attack you. Would have happened from either side.

  11. harleyrider1 says:

    Well spoken Brian; eloquent replies by you as well.

  12. Brian O'Neill says:


  13. Oh, it just doesn’t matter.
    Big business and the rich run things.

  14. LeePHilI says:

    I voted for, and supported McKenna in previous elections. That stopped when the patronizing of the TEA Party started and his desire to serve the masters of the insurance industry.

    Call me partisan if you’d like

  15. BlaineCGarver says:

    Good write up, Brian…Don’t worry about pissant….how can you trust anyone that won’t use their name?

  16. BlaineCGarver says:

    Lee, I’ll bet “some of your best friends are republican” …..SO freaking transparent.

  17. Earth_watch says:

    How is it appropriate for this column to be used as a place to give a personal endorsement?

  18. Brian O'Neill says:

    Good question, Earthwatch. Most of my topics, especially those related to law enforcement, are based on personal experience. My endorsement of Mr. McKenna came only after hearing him speak on issues in which I have also been involved (i.e. domestic violence and criminal street gangs). AG McKenna, more than any other politician, greatly impressed me.

    And keep in mind that Blue Byline is, first and foremost, an opinion column.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0