Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna called his Democratic opponent, Jay Inslee, Friday evening to concede the hard-fought 2012 governor’s race. It was a long, slow week of ballot counting, but in the end, McKenna simply could not catch Inslee who led by a couple percentage points since Tuesday night.
Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager, spoke to reporters in a conference call at about about 6 p.m. He said Attorney General McKenna called to congratulate Congressman Inslee about 15 minutes earlier. McKenna did so after talking to his staff and reporters.
Notes from the telephone press conference:
Jim Brunner of The Seattle Times asked the first question: What was it that made the difference for Rob to change his mind?
Pepple: All along, we were watching the data points. We were seeing the improvement that had been indicated in our tracking survey. We wanted to see if that would be duplicated in some of the smaller counties. Once those counties (results) started coming in the late morning and early afternoon, it just became clear there wasn’t enough of a buildup, even though he was cutting into the lead, at 5 p.m., he was under 42,000 (votes separating the two candidates). There was not any way to overcome the disparity.
Joel Connelly, seattlepi.com: As you have gone through this the last few days, have you talked at all about what Rob will do next, will he be in public service?
Pepple: You will continue to see him involved in things he is passionate about, Boy Scouts, human trafficking, another public office, no, that is not in the cards right now.
Olympian: When is Rob going to talk to us?
Pepple: No plan right now for that.
Allen Schauffler of KING TV: If you can’t win a race like this with a candidate like this, is that a sign that this political party is dead in the water?
Pepple: There is strength in the party in other areas…. Pepple said there were no federal resources being spent that are often so helpful with turnout. There wasn’t any of that going on here. That’s not an indictment on the party per se.
Associated Press: How things are feeling in the office today, the sentiment, the feelings?
Pepple: Obviously, there was great sadness when Rob informed the staff that it wasn’t going to turn out the way we all wanted. He quoted his father: “Hard work is never wasted.” There was a lot of sadness there, but they will remember the opportunity they had on an historic campaign. They got to work with great colleagues. Rob reminded them of that as well. Rob takes the long view. It’s awfully hard particularly for younger staff to get beyond the finality of a day like this.”
Brian Rosenthal, The Seattle Times: Now that the campaign is over, and you can reflect on it, what do you think of the campaign?
Pepple: I had the best candidate in Rob McKenna and the best campaign staff. I really appreciate the coordination and cooperation from the party. That does not always exist. There can be jealousies, people getting their noses out of joint. We really didn’t have it this year. I am sure I will look back, after crunching the numbers, I will wonder if there was something else I could do.
Pepple went on to say that it was a tough race with a presidential candidate who was very popular in Washington state, President Obama, who won here by almost 13 percentage points. It was difficult, Pepple said, “swimming against that tide.”