The governor of this great state has been less than impressive these past four years. Consider the revelations of management mishaps under his watch, which have put the state on edge more than once. Or ponder his inability to goad the legislature to fully fund education, casting him as feckless in the face of a slow-burning state constitutional crisis. And just think about how he failed to pass his signature legislation—a cap-and-trade rule—through even a majority-Democratic house earlier this year. The guv is something of a dud. So is it finally time for a Republican to take the seat in Olympia that has been blue for 30-some years? The answer is no. For whatever Inslee’s faults, former Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant would be an even worse choice for the state. Consider Bryant’s stance on the environment: Though boasting a very real record of stewardship around Puget Sound, Bryant can see only as far as the horizon when it comes to environmental issues, and lacks the sense of urgency necessary for Washington to do its part in combating climate change. He opposes the Department of Ecology’s “Clean Air Rule,” which would regulate CO2 emissions in the state; he supported the docking of Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet at the Port of Seattle; and he has indicated conditional support of the since-scuttled Cherry Point coal terminal and the massive Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal. Inslee isn’t perfect—we wish he would get behind I-732—but he is resolute in his commitment to decreasing the flow of fossil fuels through the state. When it comes to education—the state’s primary responsibility—Bryant has done little to show that he is ready to lead the state toward a solution on McCleary, failing to exploit an opening from Inslee, who for the second election in a row has failed to produce a coherent plan of his own. What Inslee does have to show, though, is an impressive record of legislative cooperation that has led to education funding that in some ways goes above and beyond the requirements of McCleary. The one weakness of Inslee’s that Bryant has exploited is his management, pointing to the inexcusable series of slip-ups and obfuscation in the past year at Western State Hospital—which compounded previous criticism for mismanagement at the Department of Transportation and the Department of Corrections. The Republican candidate should be lauded for training our focus on these shortcomings. Still, it is Inslee who should be guiding the state through the next four years. We will be watching.
Read the rest of Seattle Weekly’s endorsements for the 2016 general election here.