Early buzz about potential challengers to incumbent Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee if he runs for re-election next year has focused on a half-dozen or so Republican names, and one candidate is taking the initiative to run in the early pole position—Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant.
In recent months, Bryant has shifted from an exploratory posture regarding the 2016 race to begin making the rounds of the political press. On Tuesday, Bryant gave an interview to Politico Pro, a top source for Washington D.C.’s political influencers, to discuss his possible candidacy. The following item went out to subscribers of Politico Pro’s “Campaign Pro’s Morning Score” daily email authored by Kyle Cheney and Sandhya Raman, not available online without a subscription. We have gained access to the article and are sharing it here as a public service. To learn more about “Politico Pro”, see: https://www.politicopro.com/login/
PACIFIC TRAIL — Seattle port commissioner outlines potential challenge to Gov. Jay Inslee: Bill Bryant is a rare Republican who’s found electoral success in bright blue Seattle. That’s partly because his two successful bids to become one of five port commissioners didn’t require party labels. But he is also convinced this his “fiscally conservative,” “socially libertarian” message could resonate around the state, as he makes political rounds in Washington and seriously considers a bid for the governorship. Bryant sat down with Campaign Pro and talked about his thought process. Some highlights:
— Bryant argues that his current role gives him a vantage point over highly consequential economic decisions that drive the economy of Seattle and Washington state as a whole. SeaTac and the region’s ports impact 200,000 jobs, he said. That experience, he added, has prepared him to be governor. “I’ve been spending the last couple months just moving around the state, listening to people,” he said, noting that he was born and raised in different parts of Washington, even though he lives in the Seattle area now. “People are looking for someone who can pull people together behind an agenda and deliver on it and start getting stuff done, whether that’s cleaning up Puget Sound … or figuring out how we reform and fund our schools.”
— He also argues that he helped craft a leaner port budget that helped relieve pressure on taxes. “I put together a pretty conservative budget,” he said. Bryant declined to wade into social issues or hot-button topics like Obamacare, which he’d likely confront as a gubernatorial candidate.
— Bryant is sure he could raise the funds necessary to compete, but he says he may run a campaign that’s lighter on TV ads and heavier on targeted video advertising. “It’s exactly how President Obama got elected and reelected,” he said, citing longtime Obama adviser David Plouffe’s book “The Audacity to Win.” He says he’ll make his decision to run “soonish.” “Any gubernatorial campaign is a huge endeavor,” he said. “I would want to do it in a way that really includes people from all across the state.”