Chris Gregoire will leave the governor’s mansion after two terms. Standing outside the house with her family, she announced she won’t run for re-election in 2012.
U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee learned about her decision a few hours early. Gregoire called her fellow Democrat on Sunday night and encouraged him to run for her job, she said.
Inslee is expected to enter the race soon now that Gregoire has cleared the way and Attorney General Rob McKenna is officially in the running for the Republicans.
Gregoire’s decision is a long-expected one, but she said it was a tough call. Now she enters an 18-month lame-duck phase but vowed not to let up in the home stretch.
Running for re-election would have distracted her, she said. The “worst thing for the state of Washington is for me to be preoccupied with a campaign,” she said.
And after that, could a post in the Obama administration be waiting? Gregoire wasn’t saying. She held the press conference before boarding a flight to D.C. to lobby on behalf of state governments, though, and she said she would help President Barack Obama run for a second term. “That doesn’t mean I’m looking for a job. It means I want this country to be led with the best,” she said.
Gregoire thanked the people standing around her: her husband Mike and their two daughters and the people who worked for her in two terms as governor, three terms as attorney general and the campaigns that got her there.