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.
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.