Bob Ferguson and Reagan Dunn, the candidates for state attorney general, squared off in a debate Tuesday at Town Hall in Seattle.
Not much new ground was broken, unless you count both candidates revealing they passed the bar exam on their first try. But the two King County Council members continued to highlight contrasts in their views and records.
Dunn said his first policy priority as AG would be to work on reforming regulations, so businesses are not hurt by unintended consequences of state rules. Ferguson said he would create an environmental crimes unit and criticized Dunn for previously saying he’d expand the AG’s work on government transparency by trimming its environmental section.
On consumer protection priorities, Ferguson said he would look closer at banks and improper foreclosures and businesses that improperly withhold wages and tips from employees. Dunn said he is concerned about banks manipulating so-called Libor interest rates, which may have cost the state money on its investments.
Pointing to his year-long stint as council chair, Ferguson contended he was the only candidate with experience directly supervising employees. Dunn argued that the chair’s post is “largely ceremonial” and said his year as a senior counsel to the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, a branch of the Department of Justice, amounted to managing thousands of federal lawyers spread around the country. Ferguson disagreed with both assertions.
Ferguson said he would not have filed a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s health care policy as current AG Rob McKenna did. He said overturning the entire law wouldn’t have been in the best interest of Washingtonians, and McKenna’s effort was not a good use of scarce state resources. Dunn said he thought the policy’s so-called individual mandate was unconstitutional and worth challenging. But he would’ve done it differently than McKenna, he said, consulting with the governor first.
And when asked what voters should be glad about if either of them got elected, Dunn said that he’d bring his prosecutor’s experience to bear on violent crime; Ferguson said that he’d bring independence to the office, free from partisan and special interest pressures.