Rob McKenna May Have Won Over the Tea Partiers, but the Biggest Republican Bankrollers in the State Still Hate Him

Photo by Tony Overman/The Olympian
McKenna basks in the adoration of dopes.
If any question remained regarding Attorney General Rob McKenna's decision to join the lawsuit to stop Obamacare--an act of pure principle? or pure political grandstanding?--all doubt was removed this weekend, as the once-moderate Republican showed up to collect adoration at a Tea Party rally in Olympia.

"My name is Rob McKenna and I represent you!" the AG declared to the nearly 1,000 citizens gathered on Saturday, all of them strongly opposed to health.

But if McKenna has made a successful grab for the GOP's right-wing hoi polloi in Washington state, he hasn't had quite that success in winning over his party's most generous funder. Far from it.

The Building Industry Association of Washington, which essentially bankrolled the gubernatorial campaign of Republican real estate broker Dino Rossi last year (to no avail), has been hating on McKenna nonstop for months.

They call him a lackey of Chris Gregoire ("[he] would never dare to buck an order from the Boss Lady"), a RINO (Republican in name only), and "more liberal than a liberal." The blunt-talking trade group for the home-construction industry has even suggested it would support (gasp) Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee for governor over McKenna, and joked about launching the url

Why such animus? It's not exactly all about policy differences. McKenna has been aggressively pursuing a campaign-finance investigation of the BIAW. In response, the BIAW has practically turned their blog, The Hammer, into a daily feed of anti-McKenna invective.

But then the BIAW hates the health care plan, too, of course. How do you respond when the guy you hate the most does exactly what you want? Those of us who love the entertainment value offered by the BIAW were on tenterhooks all week, as BIAW chief Tom McCabe maintained stony silence.

Lundberg: allegedly keeping the cash.
At long last, he came through. Yep, the BIAW still hates McKenna--this time for the AG's willingness to represent Gregoire and the state in opposing his own lawsuit. In other words, as a lawyer, he'll be on both sides of the issue.

The BIAW could be forgiven for a delayed reaction. On Friday, one of the group's board members--a Bellevue luxury-home developer named Grey Lundberg--was charged with 13 felony counts of first-degree theft. Lundberg allegedly collected some $629,000 in sales tax from buyers of his homes, and then just pocketed the money, rather than passing it on to the state.

Rob McKenna may have no clear beliefs or principles, as the BIAW suggests. But at least, it seems, the officers of tax-hating, government-loathing BIAW are staying true to theirs.

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