Former Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna has repeatedly said he’s not planning another run for governor in 2016.
But McKenna, now a partner in a private law firm, is working to maintain his profile in state politics and public policy — a presence that could come in handy just in case he changes his mind.
In the latest example, McKenna is promoting the launch of a new web site that will go live Monday: smartergovernmentwa.org.
McKenna and his 2012 campaign manager, Randy Pepple, are keeping details of that web site under wraps for now. Pepple described it as “a relaunching of Rob’s campaign web site, changing it around and providing him a forum going forward.”
Meanwhile, McKenna and Pepple also have moved to create a new 501(c)(4) nonprofit group, called Reform Alliance (or REAL). In a registration with the state, the nonprofit listed McKenna as its chairman and several gubernatorial campaign workers, including Pepple and consultant Mariana Parks, as directors. The group’s mailing address is the same Bellevue P.O. Box as McKenna’s gubernatorial campaign.
Pepple declined to discuss the purpose of REAL, saying “it would be unfair to characterize it as anything yet.” But he and McKenna have previously talked about creating a new organization that could act as a business-friendly counterweight to Democratic-allied groups like FUSE and the Progress Alliance of Washington.
REAL was seeded with a $5,000 donation from McKenna’s surplus gubernatorial campaign funds in March. But the money had to be returned because REAL was not properly registered as a charitable organization with the state at the time of the donation. (State law restricts use of surplus campaign funds to several specific options, including refunds to donors, a gift to the state general fund, or a gift to a charity.)
Assuming REAL can get its paperwork in order, the money could be re-donated legally.
Pepple insisted the latest moves do not indicate a replay of Dino Rossi’s gambit following the 2004 governor’s race. After losing that disputed contest to Democrat Chris Gregoire, Rossi formed a nonprofit called Forward Washington and toured the state giving speeches that echoed his campaign themes, before running against Gregoire a second time in 2008.
That’s simply not McKenna’s plan, Pepple said: “He’s not running again.”