The Washington state governor’s race is a choice between an incumbent who has made politics a career and a feisty challenger who wants to bring a fresh approach to state government.
We think it’s time to give the outsider a chance. We support Republican Bill Bryant.
Bryant is fighting a tough battle against Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee. Inslee is likable, can tout his experience and is a veteran at running campaigns. It will be tough in the coming weeks for Bryant to overcome Inslee’s name recognition and election spending.
But it is this tenacious, no-quit attitude that we find so appealing in Bryant.
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He tells the story of starting his export company with a phone and a fax machine in his basement. He now is chairman of a firm that has helped hundreds of Washington state farmers open up new markets for their crops and products around the world.
Bryant also served two terms as a Seattle port commissioner before deciding to make his run for governor, so he has experience in public office. His roots in business and his familiarity with how to manage government bureaucracy make a powerful combination.
We also like his vision. Bryant appears to be a strategist who looks ahead several years, sets goals and figures out ways to meet them. Such pro-active planning from the governor’s chair would be refreshing.
We know it is not easy to push an agenda with a divided Legislature (which recently has been the case in our state), but Bryant is among the most moderate Republicans we have seen, and we think he could pull it off if he had the opportunity.
Inslee, on the other hand, struggles. When the Legislature again this year failed to finish its job on time and went into an extended session, Inslee vetoed every bill in retaliation — all 27 of them that made it to his desk.
It was an ineffective stunt and we criticized him for it. We understood his frustration, but he accomplished nothing except adding more work to legislators who later had to override his vetoes.
It was a poor example of leadership, and we would like to see better from him.
There are other issues that need attention, too, such as rising homelessness and inadequate mental health services.
Granted, there have been accomplishments under Inslee’s watch — such as college tuition cuts, a $16 billion transportation package and a state economy that has been ranked top in the country.
Inslee also highlights a $3 billion boost to K-12 education, all-day kindergarten classes, a new teacher mentoring program and more money for early learning.
The progress lawmakers made in education is in response to the 2012 state Supreme Court ruling requiring them to figure out a way to meet the state’s constitutional requirement to amply fund basic education.
Inslee said a committee formed this year to research teacher compensation will be a key to figuring out how to comply with the court demands and talks optimistically about meeting the deadline next year.
We wonder why this committee was not organized sooner, and why lawmakers now have their backs against a wall.
Bryant called the school funding issue an “opportunity” rather than a challenge. He said it gives state officials a chance to review what a school should look like in the 21st century, and use that model to fund the student, not the institution.
It is this novel perspective that we admire in Bryant. He is a problem-solver and that has us swayed.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Republican Bill Bryant for governor.