The University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato has started handicapping the 2011 and 2012 races for governor and he calls the open race for Washington governor a toss-up.
Of course, it can only be an open race if there is no incumbent. Sabato gets there by stating that incumbent Gov. Chris Gregoire will not seek a third term and will instead retire. He qualifies it by saying Gregoire is “expected to retire” and then pits U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee against either state Attorney General Rob McKenna or U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert.
“Normally, one would think the Republican nominee, likely to be state Attorney General Rob McKenna, would have an edge,” Sabato wrote. ” It may work out that way. But Congressman Jay Inslee, the probable Democratic candidate, will be a fierce competitor in a state that has become a Democratic stronghold.”
Sabato responded to an e-mail by saying that the assumption in D.C. is that she will not seek a third term. Which may be true. It also may be true that she runs again.
But the last thing she’ll do is make herself a lame duck for the final two years of her term. In fact, if anything, Gregoire looks like a candidate, appearing to remake herself to respond to the message she says she heard from voters last November.
But then, I don’t have a crystal ball.