AP: Jay Inslee to Finally Announce Campaign for Governor; Sonntag "Still Mulling"

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The gubernatorial match-up everyone knew was coming, but which hadn't actually fully materialized, has finally done so.

The AP reports that Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee will formerly announce his bid for governor next week.

Inslee plans to make his announcement in Seattle, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity, because Inslee's plans have not been officially made public. He has long been positioning himself as a potential candidate, and that pathway cleared earlier this month when Gov. Chris Gregoire announced that she would not seek a third term.

The other potentially serious Democratic candidate contemplating a bid is State Auditor Brian Sonntag.

Speaking over the phone with Seattle Weekly today, Sonntag says he's "still mulling things over" and hopes to make a decision no later than July 4. He also calls Rep. Inslee "a great Congressman and a great guy."

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Brian Sonntag's run as a moderate would shake up the Dem dynamic.
"I don't think [Inslee's bid for governor] is any big surprise to anyone," Sonntag says. "Jay's considered this for a long time. He's been a state legislator, a member of Congress, and he's a good guy. I think I'm a good guy too, so we'll see. My consideration has nothing to do with whether he's in or out. I think I have a lot to offer the state. It's just a question of in what capacity."

Sonntag, as a fiscally conservative Democrat, could in some ways split the difference between Republican Rob McKenna and liberal Dem Jay Inslee. And his record of demanding harsh performance audits might find receptive listeners among Washington voters who are demanding serious budget cuts.

Inslee's run for governor isn't his first, as after losing his Congressional seat to Republican Doc Hastings in 1994, he ran for governor, ultimately losing the Democratic nomination in Gary Locke in 1996.

In one of the first attack volleys, Inslee recently took aim at McKenna's lawsuit against President Obama's health care-reform bill, calling the suit in line with "right-wing extremists."

Expect health care to continue to be a centerpiece issue in the campaign going forward.

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