GOP turns attention to Herbold as potential governor candidate

By Beth Kaiman
Seattle Times staff reporter


Bob Herbold is a former Microsoft executive and the husband of a Republican party leader.

In his push to get one clear front-runner for the Republican nomination for governor or at this point, even one candidate the state party chairman has turned his attention to Bob Herbold, a former Microsoft executive.

State GOP Chairman Chris Vance sees Herbold, a former chief operating officer at Microsoft, as a candidate who could prove immediately attractive to voters, and with his own considerable wealth could avoid much of the time-consuming scramble to raise money.

Until recently, Vance and many other leading Republicans thought John Stanton, chief executive of Western Wireless, might be that kind of candidate a business leader from outside the political fray with plenty of his own money for a statewide campaign.

Stanton said Tuesday he wasn't running, and Vance yesterday called Herbold "the next person we talk to."

Herbold, who lives in Bellevue, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

His wife, Pat Herbold, chairwoman of the King County GOP, said her husband "was willing to talk about it. He's willing to talk to people."

Vance, who had set a July deadline for recruiting gubernatorial candidates, is determined to avoid the crowded Republican fields that in the 1980s and 1990s helped split the party and let candidates without broad support emerge as nominees.

The last Republican governor was John Spellman, who lost a re-election bid in 1984.

"We have not been competitive," Vance said. "I want a person conservative enough to unite and motivate the base, but moderate enough to appeal to suburban voters, especially women."

It is early. While Herbold hasn't decided to run in 2004, neither has Democratic Gov. Gary Locke.

If Locke doesn't seek a third term, Democrats are quick to point out three elected officials as possibilities: Attorney General Christine Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge already has said he's in the race.

The GOP has a less obvious bench, and so far party officials have seen Stanton, U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt of Spokane and King County Sheriff Dave Reichert opt out.

As a party leader, Pat Herbold is dismayed at the lack of candidates. She said Democrats are more likely than Republicans to be "career politicians" and become known and gain experience over a longer period of time.

Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Washington and a supporter of GOP candidates, sees it more simply.

"It's a Democratic state. It's a Democratic stronghold," said McCabe, who had hoped to see Stanton enter the race. "If Slade Gorton can't win in the state, what makes a little-known person think he can?"

Gorton lost a close U.S. Senate re-election campaign to Maria Cantwell in 2000. Now the only Republicans elected to statewide office in Washington are Secretary of State Sam Reed and Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland.

Said Reed, "there just isn't a natural person" to turn to as a Republican gubernatorial candidate, especially in elective office.

State Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, said he has not made up his mind to run for governor. He has long expressed interest in Rep. Jennifer Dunn's congressional seat, should she give that up.

Rossi, 43, must now consider whether to give up his Senate post, and chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee, to run for governor.

Rossi said he probably would not run if Herbold does, noting that he suggested a couple of years ago that Herbold enter the race.

King County Council member Rob McKenna, 40, of Bellevue, is considering a campaign for attorney general. He said yesterday he has thought about running for governor, but will not if Herbold, 60, declares.

Vance said he will not pressure Herbold.

"Pressure doesn't work," he said. "It's got to come from him."


Stanton takes a pass on running for governor

The Associated Press
The News Tribune


Western Wireless chief executive John Stanton has announced he won't seek the Republican Party's nomination for governor.

Stanton is the third prominent GOP hopeful to pass on next year's race, following King County Sheriff Dave Reichert and U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Spokane), who's thinking about challenging U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

"While I am very flattered to be considered, for professional and personal commitments I will not be able to pursue anything in 2004," Stanton told The Seattle Times in a story for Wednesday's editions.

Stanton said he decided over the weekend and called Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance on Wednesday.

"For John it was never about 'Can he win?'" Vance said. "It was, 'Is this the right thing to do?' for his company and his family."

Stanton's announcement may make it tough for Vance to sign up a candidate by his self-imposed deadline this month.

"We're not going to give up," Vance said. "We're going to have one great candidate, and that person is going to be the governor."

Gov. Gary Locke hasn't announced whether he'll seek a third term.

If he doesn't, the race would likely draw prominent hopefuls from both parties.

Vance said state Sen. Dino Rossi of Sammamish and Bob Herbold, former chief operating officer at Microsoft, remain GOP possibilities.

Attorney General Christine Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee are likely Democratic candidates in a Locke-less race.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge got in the race for the Democratic nomination early.

Brett Bader, a Republican political consultant, said Stanton's decision hurts because dwindling support for Locke has opened the door for a Republican contender.

"It's a big opportunity for the Republicans because Locke is beatable, but the state party has thus far been unable to recruit a candidate," Bader said.

Stanton has been active for years in the Republican Party, but began drawing attention in March when he stepped down as chief executive of T-Mobile USA, the wireless company he founded and sold to German company Deutsche Telekom.

He owns part of the Seattle Mariners and the SuperSonics.

Western Wireless provides wireless service to rural parts of the country.

(Published 12:01AM, July 17th, 2003)


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