In a move sure to rankle more than a few state Democrats, Auditor Brian Sonntag has come out in full support of Republican Rob McKenna's gubernatorial bid. Headlining a group of 13 conservative Dems rocking the moniker "Democrats for Rob," (or D4R), the McKenna campaign announced the endorsement today.
This isn't Sonntag's first foray into party-line crossing politics. In 2008 Sonntag endorsed Susan Hutchinson for King County Executive, a race that was obviously won by Dow Constantine.
The News Tribune in Tacoma, a hometown paper of sorts for Sonntag, as he served as Pierce County Auditor and Pierce County Clerk prior to becoming State Auditor, quotes Sonntag from a press release issued this morning:
"After years of effective partnership, mutual respect, and friendship, helping Rob in this capacity was an afterthought. I am confident he is the right person for the job. Olympia has been polluted by special interest or partisan meddling. I've seen Rob display the kind of leadership that can get past all of that.
"Each Democrat that arrives at the same realization I have may have their own reason to offer or story to tell. I am here to encourage their involvement and lend my support to a friend that has repeatedly demonstrated that patient, thoughtful leadership can consistently triumph over debilitating partisanship."
Not to be outdone, Washington State Democrats Chair Dwight Pelz released his own statement, branding the move "yet another political stunt by Rob McKenna":
"If Rob McKenna ever comes up with a new idea, it will definitely be news. We've been through Democrats for Dino and Democrats for Hutchison. We're looking forward to the pattern of this failed stunt continuing with Jay Inslee winning this election and becoming our next governor.
"Jay is focused on getting Washingtonians back to work. He is focused on making sure Washingtonians are treated equally when it comes to whom they choose to marry. And he is focused on protecting a woman's right to choose. That is why Washingtonians support Jay Inslee for governor."
And, naturally, McKenna got into the press-release action, too. Here's what he had to say about Democrats for Rob:
"Dedicated public servants must put their commitment to the public's best interests above all else, including party labels," said McKenna. "As Governor, I intend to listen to voices from across the political spectrum, because no one group or party has a monopoly on good ideas.
"I am looking for people committed to moving this state in a New Direction - getting people back to work, adequately funding public schools, and making state government more efficient and less costly - and together I'm sure we can find a way to lead our state forward."
The Democrats for Rob announcement comes on the same day McKenna was officially endorsed by Public School Employees of Washington - which promises to be a much more meaningful political backslap. In 2004 and 2008 Public School Employees of Washington endorsed Christine Gregoire in her bids for the job.
Sonntag is retiring after five terms as state auditor, and obviously aiming to go out with a bang. Or fizzle. Or whatever the hell this move constitutes -- which probably isn't much.