Thursday, August 30, 2012

Getting to Know Rob McKenna

Rob McKenna seems to have been running for political office right out of the crib. He has an impressive resume; two bachelor’s degrees, law degree, high school and college student body president, Eagle Scout, county council member at age 33, and most recently, Attorney General for the State of Washington. According to the Seattle Times, McKenna’s high school friends joked about him being president of the United States someday.

It certainly wouldn’t surprise people who know McKenna. He is nothing if not ambitious. President may be in his long-term plans, but right now he has his aim on the State House. Being the Governor of Washington might well be McKenna’s idea of a stepping stone to a presidential run.

McKenna is a politician’s politician. On the one hand, when speaking to union employees, he states that collective bargaining is a recognized right. When speaking to Republican supporters he says that collective bargaining is merely a “statutory right,” and characterizes public employee unions as “dangerous.” The Seattle Times reported that the head of the Republican Governors Association told Washington’s delegates to the Republican National Convention that McKenna would be a leader similar to Scott Walker, the pugnacious, anti-union governor of Wisconsin.

Despite portraying himself as a moderate Republican, McKenna’s actions speak louder than words. McKenna is consistently anti tax and told a Tea Party rally, “I represent you.” The Tea Party is as strongly behind McKenna as they are their favorite, Clint Didier, who claims global warming is a hoax perpetrated to pave the way for a UN takeover of US sovereignty

In the face of increasing evidence of habitat destruction and declining biodiversity, McKenna parrots the Republican lament about burdensome environmental regulations, and he has implied that home buyers, rather than shady mortgage companies, are to blame for the foreclosure crisis.

But what really elevated McKenna to the national stage and got him noticed by Republican Party functionaries was being one of the first state attorneys general to join a multi-state law suit against the Affordable Care Act. Here again, McKenna, the adroit politician, tried to have it both ways, arguing that he was “only” against the insurance mandate. But King County Superior Court Judge Sharon Armstrong said that McKenna’s “consistent legal position” has been to repeal the entire health reform law and that his campaign talk of maintaining its popular provisions were merely “political statements.”

McKenna’s stance on health care reform and his tactical “political statements” have vaulted him into the conservative limelight and generated millions of dollars in campaign contributions from special interests, including many from out of state. He currently holds a half million dollar lead over his main rival, Jay Inslee. With less than 70 days until the election, that represents a significant advantage.

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