Note: This post has been updated to include the position of Congressional candidate Bill Driscoll.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob McKenna is drawing another distinction with his national party — this time on immigration.
With Republicans preparing for next week’s national convention in Tampa, Fla., the platform committee decided Thursday to adopt a plank calling for the removal of federal funding from universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
Washington state is one of 10 states whose public colleges and universities do just that, allowing illegal immigrants to pay the lower rates if they can prove they went to high school here. In 2010-11, 557 undocumented students submitted affidavits to receive in-state tuition, 85 percent of them to attend community and technical colleges.
Asked about the McKenna campaign’s position on the issue, spokesman Charles McCray pointed to an Associated Press article published in May. The article describes McKenna as supportive of in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants as a way to increase young people going to college.
Earlier this week, McKenna broke from the national platform committee by saying he supports “a woman’s right to choose under the laws in this state.” The committee had decided to oppose abortion in all cases.
On the immigration issue, McKenna was joined by at least two other state Republicans: U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner and Congressional candidate Bill Driscoll.
Baumgartner, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, said he viewed it as a state’s rights issue.
“I think we should make our own higher ed policy here in the state of Washington,” he said. “Federal funds for things like research and important scientific research shouldn’t be tied to state’s issues.”
A spokesman for Driscoll said the 6th district candidate “would not vote to cut off federal funds to universities over this issue.”
Republican John Koster, running for Congress in the 1st district, did not return telephone messages seeking comment.
And a spokesman for the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, said the campaign would have to study the language of the platform plank.