After well over a year of campaigning, the race for governor has reached its zenith, with less than one week standing between the candidates and Election Day
As time runs out for people to make up their minds, Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Bill Bryant are making their final pitches to the more than 4 million registered voters in Washington state.
Inslee spent seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Washington’s 1st District — which includes most of Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish Counties, along with a portion of King County, before deciding to run for governor in 2012. He defeated state attorney general Rob McKenna by a three-point margin to replace outgoing incumbent Christine Gregoire.
In his first term, Inslee says the state has made progress in education and transportation during a time of robust economic growth, and that he is well-suited to continue the progress that’s been made.
Bryant, meanwhile, is trying to become the state’s first Republican governor since John Spellman, who lost to Booth Gardner in 1984. That was also the last time a challenger has ousted an incumbent from the state’s highest office.
The former Seattle Port Commissioner says that while his experience in that role has provided him with a breadth of knowledge that would be difficult to get as a legislator representing just one district, he sees himself as transitioning from the private sector to the public sector in his bid for governor. He founded Bryant Christie, Inc. in the early 1990s, a firm that helps companies manage international government and public affairs, which now employs approximately 40 people, with operations in 20-to-30 countries.
Bryant says Inslee has done a poor job as an administrator for the state, citing high school graduation rates and the skills gap when it comes to education, along with the need for reform in the state’s mental health system.
The current state of the race is somewhat up for debate, with recent polls all giving Inslee an advantage, but of varying margins.
The latest statewide Elway Poll, released in late October, found Inslee with a 51-39 advantage over Bryant, while the KCTS 9/Crosscut/Washington Poll gave the incumbent a more modest six-point advantage, 51-45.
Last week, the Queen Anne & Magnolia News sat down with both candidates to hear what they want to accomplish if elected to run the state for the next four years.