The first face-off between the two leading candidates vying to become Washington’s next governor—State Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) and former Congressman Jay Inslee (D)—will be held at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Spokane, a quadrennial debate the Association of Washington Business has sponsored since 1992.
In addition to the gubernatorial debate, the candidates for attorney general—King County Councilmen Reagan Dunn (R) and Bob Ferguson (D)—will also make their best case to voters beginning at 2:00 p.m.
Space in the Bing Crosby Theater where the debates will take place is reserved for AWB members, media, and invited guests. The entire event will be broadcast live on TVW and webcast on tvw.org.
NW Daily Marker will be live-tweeting from the Bing Crosby Theater (follow @BryanMyrick for updates) and will publish additional news and analysis.
As of now, the AWB’s debate invitation is the only one Inslee has accepted and so could be the sole opportunity in a dynamic and interactive political arena for voters to assess how the candidates handle themselves and explain their ideas for governing the state.
Inslee was the first to throw down the debate challenge in December, an offer for a six-pack of sparring sessions with preconditions, but in January when the AWB announced its schedule for tomorrow’s debate, Inslee balked. At the time, Inslee complained to the media that the AWB has not confirmed his availability prior to their announcement and he would not be able to make the June 12 date.
In March, when McKenna upped the ante by proposing a 15-debate schedule kicked off with the AWB date, Inslee still specifically declined to attend the AWB event and remained silent on the question of the 14 other debates.
Two days after refusing McKenna’s challenge, Inslee backtracked and agreed to participate though not without tossing the politician’s version of a tantrum, the sort thrown by toddlers in vain attempts to avoid going to the dentist. His campaign’s swipe just last week at debate host AWB for contributions made to its political action committee failed to gain much traction, and so the debate will finally happen Tuesday afternoon.