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Bob Ferguson wins buy-in from WA Democrats ahead of gubernatorial primary

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(The Center Square) – The Washington state primary is still more than three months away, but state Democrats are making clear which of the leading Democrats running for governor they will support.

There’s no official endorsement at this point, but an organizing effort called the “Coordinated Campaign” has decided to put its eggs in the basket of outgoing Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

State Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, says he was told about a month ago that the state party was offering an early buy-in to the Coordinated Campaign, which supports Democratic candidates across the ballot.

Buying in meant putting up $500,000 by June 1 following a Zoom interview.

“They’re not doing this for any other state races. This is something you would normally see post-primary and then they can say, ‘We want to unite our people’ and have a coordinated push and that would be your kind of normal timing as to how this stuff would work,” Mullet said in a Friday interview with The Center Square.

Mullet says the interview with party leaders was cordial and civil, “but it was also pretty clear early on that I didn’t have that kind of money sitting around to buy into the coordinated endorsement.”

“There’s no precedent for what happened here,” he said.

Mullet said he knew going into the interview, Ferguson would get the nod.

The Center Square asked Democratic State Party Chair Shasti Conrad about the endorsement.

Her emailed response said, in part, “After interviewing both candidates, and considering the unanimous grassroots support from Local and County Parties, the Washington State Democratic Party enthusiastically offered AG Bob Ferguson the opportunity to participate in our 2024 Coordinated Campaign and assist our primary turnout operations. In this unprecedented election year we have no time to waste, Bob Ferguson helps us put our strongest foot forward.”

Mullet says despite the fact his name won’t appear in television ads or campaign literature paid for by Washing Democrats leading up to the Aug. 6 primary, he’s still very much in the race.

“He’s [Ferguson] definitely put the thumb on the scale, but we find when voters actually learn where Bob and I have been on the really important issues, they’ll see the contrast,” he said.

Mullet pointed to Ferguson’s record on the decriminalization of drugs.

“Remember Bob was the one encouraging the Legislature to follow the route of Oregon to legalize hard drugs and the use of those drugs in public, and I was the one state Senator on the Democratic side saying over my dead body are we going to legalize drugs like that,” he explained.

In response, the Ferguson campaign sent an email that says, in part, “I have always demanded accountability for those who deal or supply drugs illegally or unethically – whether on the street or in corporate boardrooms. I’m the only candidate to publish a comprehensive plan to improve public safety, including hiring more law enforcement and adding resources to combat fentanyl trafficking. In contrast, Mark Mullet has no plan, just desperate attacks from a broke and flailing campaign.”

Mullet told The Center Square he supports all three that were approved by lawmakers this past session to loosen restriction on police pursuits, ban any future state income tax, and to restore parental rights in school curriculum and notification.

He also supports two out of the three initiatives to appear on the Fall ballot: the opt out of the state’s WA Cares long-term care plan, repealing the state’s capital gains tax, and repealing the Climate Commitment Act.

“That one I have made clear that, as governor, that bill gives you a huge amount of authority to control the price of gas,” Mullet said. “Inslee has used that authority to drive up the price of gas to the point where average families can’t afford to live and work here anymore.”

He concluded, “I just have to be in the top-two for the primary, and we’re just making sure voters know where we are.”