Attorney General Gregoire to run for governor


Associated Press
King 5 News

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Attorney General Christine Gregoire will run for governor in 2004, she told The Associated Press on Monday.

Gregoire made a name for herself nationally by negotiating the a $206 billion settlement between 46 states and Big Tobacco in 1998.

She was first elected as the Washington attorney general in 1992 and has won re-election handily since then. Before that, she served as director of the Washington Department of Ecology from 1988 to 1992.

"I intend to run," Gregoire said. "I'm decisive, I consider myself a visionary looking to the future, and I'm ready to make the tough decisions."

Gregoire, a Democrat, said she has been talking to Locke about his plans for two months now. She said Locke asked her advice because Gregoire faced a similar decision in 2000, when she decided not to run for U.S. Senate, so she could be closer to her children at home and her ailing mother.

"I understand how difficult it is," Gregoire said. Locke cited concern for his family as the main reason he's not running for a third term.

Gregoire praised Locke's work as governor during a time when the state faced its worst budget crises in decades.

"He worked as hard as anybody I know trying to get us through unprecedented budget issues," Gregoire said. She said many people have asked her why she would want to be governor at such a tough time.

"I am a problem-solver," she said. "My focus is, whatever decision we make today, how will that benefit our children and our grandchildren?"

Gregoire, the state's first female attorney general, is married and has two daughters, one who graduated from high school this spring and another at Harvard Law School. She lives in Olympia.

State Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt, while declining to name favorites among the potentially crowded field of Democratic contenders, said Gregoire would be a formidable candidate.

"She's dynamite," Berendt said. "She's been elected to statewide office several times, she's a very popular elected official."

Locke said it's too early to say who he will endorse.

State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance said that Gregoire has made "huge mistakes" as attorney general. The biggest gaffe during her watch was in 2000, when state lawyers in her office missed a deadline to appeal a case in which a jury awarded $18 million to the families of three developmentally disabled men who were abused in a state-licensed adult family home.

Gregoire was not directly responsible for the mistake.

Vance said that the Democratic nominee, whoever that is, will have to answer for what Republicans have painted as Washington's unfriendly business climate.

"The Democrats have had their chance, they've had 20 years, and they have made a mess of this state," Vance said.

The leaders of both parties agreed that Locke's announcement will create a huge ripple effect in Washington state politics.

"There are going to be many falling dominoes in this that are going to change the face of state government in Olympia," Berendt said.


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