McKenna Announces Run for Governor, Calls for “New Direction for Washington"


Cites lack of leadership in Olympia, belief that better times lie ahead

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd at his old high school, Attorney General Rob McKenna tonight launched his campaign for governor. McKenna told the audience at Sammamish High School that under his leadership, “We’ll have a government that matches our state’s spirit of innovation.”

McKenna spoke of charting a ”New Direction for Washington state” that focuses on job creation, the nation’s best public schools and a reformed state government that lives within its means.

Emphasizing the connection between competing for the jobs of the future and public education, McKenna emphasized the need to not just improve Washington’s school system, but to make it the best. “In the long run, the most powerful step we can take to make our state economically competitive is to develop the best public schools in America”, said McKenna.

He also sharply criticized the slashing of funding for state universities, saying “A new direction for Washington State means halting and reversing the downward slide in state support for higher education.” The son of a soldier and a schoolteacher, McKenna grew up on military bases around the world, including Germany and Thailand. He said his parents chose to settle in Bellevue because of its national reputation for great schools. After graduating from Sammamish High School in 1980, McKenna went on to be student body president at the University of Washington and earned his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1988.

The Bellevue Republican has been elected statewide twice, winning a second term as attorney general in 2008 with nearly 60 percent of the vote. After working as an attorney for small and large businesses in private practice, McKenna began his public service career by winning a King County Council position in 1995. He was re-elected twice.

McKenna told the crowd Wednesday that, for too long, leaders in Olympia have followed a familiar pattern by overpromising when the economy is hot, then breaking those promises when tax revenues didn’t grow as expected. He said state government was overdue for new ideas. “We deserve a governor who will bring us a leaner, better-run, more cost-effective and more productive state government, that doesn’t demand endless tax increases before it delivers results to its bosses, the taxpayers," said McKenna.

Rob and Marilyn McKenna have four children. He has been a community volunteer both before and during his public service career, chairing Bellevue school bond and levy campaigns. He’s an Eagle Scout who remains active with Boy Scouts of America and the Eastside Domestic Violence Program. He is also a past member of the Bellevue Schools Foundation and a current member of the Bellevue College Foundation.

A replay of his announcement speech may be viewed at