Sims says he might oppose Locke - Governor hasn't disclosed any plans for running again
OLYMPIA -- King County Executive Ron Sims said yesterday he is leaving the door open to challenging Gov. Gary Locke for the Democratic nomination.
Locke has not said whether he will seek a third term next year, but he already has drawn one challenge, from former state Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge.
Sims and Attorney General Christine Gregoire are also interested in the state's highest executive office.
Gregoire has said she won't directly challenge Locke if he wants another term, but Sims said, "Not so fast!" when a reporter asked if he, too, plans to defer.
"I'll wait and see what he does, but I'm not sure" about stepping aside for the governor, he said in an interview during a visit to the Capitol.
"I'm not saying I wouldn't run against him," Sims said.
Locke's press secretary, Roger Nyhus, said, "We'd find that surprising. It has been a widely held belief, and for some time" that Sims would defer to the governor, the titular head of the party.
Sims, who now holds the post Locke vacated after winning the governor's race in 1996, said he is quite concerned about the governor's handling of the state's $2.4 billion budget gap.
Locke is rejecting a general tax increase and says the deficit can be filled by freezing two education spending initiatives and implementing such measures as health care cuts, hiring freezes and layoffs.
"I like the governor a lot. But I have very strong feelings about education," Sims said.
"I'm sympathetic about the size of the problem, but I'm not sure you want to sacrifice your future by cutting education and cutting higher education. It lowers your base and you never recover.
"So I'm not going to shut the door (to running). . . .You've got to use the bully pulpit of the office, to argue with the Tim Eymans of the world, to make sure that government really works."
Sims, a veteran King County councilman and ordained minister, was the party's unsuccessful candidate against Sen. Slade Gorton in the Republican landslide of 1994.
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