Rob McKenna

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Rob McKenna
Rob McKenna.jpg
Attorney General of Washington
Retired officeholder
In office
January 2005 - 2013
President of the National Association of Attorneys General
Base salary$151,718
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 2, 2004
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Metropolitan King County Council
High schoolSammamish High School
Bachelor'sUniversity of Washington
J.D.University of Chicago Law School (1988)
Date of birthOctober 1, 1962
Place of birthFort Sam Houston, TX
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Robert "Rob" McKenna (born October 1, 1962, in Fort Sam Houston, Texas) is a former Republican Attorney General of Washington. He was first elected in 2004, and won re-election in 2008. He ran for Governor of Washington in 2012, and was narrowly defeated by former U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee (D) in the general election on November 6, 2012.[1][2]

Though attorneys general in Washington are not term-limited, McKenna opted not to seek re-election in 2012. He was succeeded by Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, who won election on November 6, 2012.


McKenna began his career with the Bellevue office of Perkins Cole, where he practiced business and regulatory law from 1988 to 1996. He was elected to the Metropolitan King County Council in 1995, and was re-elected twice without opposition.


  • Sammamish High School
  • B.A., Economics and international studies, University of Washington
  • J.D., University of Chicago Law School (1988)

Political career

Attorney General (2005-2013)

As Washington Attorney General. McKenna was responsible for the largest public law office in the state, supervising over 1,200 employees and offices in twelve cities across the state. During his tenure, the office served more than 230 state agencies, boards, commissions, colleges, and universities, in addition to the Governor and the Legislature.

His 2008 re-election campaign received a bi-partisan boost when State Auditor Brian Sonntag and Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Janice Ellis, both Democrats, threw their support behind him.

Healthcare reform

On the same morning President Barack Obama signed into law his controversial health care reform bill, the one that narrowly passed the United States House of Representatives just two days before, McKenna and thirteen other Attorneys General, all but one being Republican, filed suit against "the federal government to stop the massive health care overhaul, claiming it's unconstitutional."[3] The legal battle to challenge Obamacare grew into a 26 state coalition of plaintiffs, including McKenna, who argued that the mandatory purchase of private individual health-insurance was unconstitutional. He defended his decision to participate in the suit by warning about the individual mandate's potential for setting a dangerous precedent, where "there would be nothing preventing a subsequent law forcing people to buy cars made by General Motors."[4]

Differing from many of his co-plaintiffs who wished to see the entire law overturned, McKenna supported its provisions pertaining to patient protection. This dissonance made McKenna a target for criticism by those who had believed that repealing the individual mandate could not reasonably or legally occur without invalidating the whole law. Especially critical were Washington Democrats aiming to undermine McKenna's image as a moderate Republican.[4] McKenna insisted that his focus on blasting the unconstitutional individual mandate "will not overturn or repeal the new health care reform legislation," despite that being the intention of his co-plaintiffs and claims by constitutional law experts that the provisions McKenna sought to protect were inextricably linked to the mandate. McKenna had a moment of redemption in August 2011, when the 11th Circuit upheld an earlier ruling made by Florida's federal Judge Roger Vinson that "Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void," but disagreed that the entire law had to fall with it.[4]


See also: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

The June 2008 Survey and Scorecard report published by the embattled liberal political organization, ACORN, gave McKenna an A- letter grade. The report was published to shine the spotlight on state attorneys general "leading the fight to protect homeowners from joining the flood of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure," so says the group.[5] The grade distributed to the individual attorneys general "generally broke down along party lines," with the exception of Louisiana's Buddy Caldwell.[6]

King County Council 1995-2004

In November 1995, McKenna was elected as one of the thirteen members of the Metropolitan King County Council, representing the people of Bellevue, Mercer Island, Kirkland, Newcastle, and Renton counties. Within this role, he wrote laws for one of the county's largest counties, specializing in budget, land use, and transportation. He was re-elected without opposition to the position in 1999 and 2003.[1]



Campaign themes

McKenna outlined his priorities and plans for the governorship on his official campaign website. Key issues included, but were not limited to:[7]
  • Creating jobs

McKenna's plan for creating jobs involves tax reform and simplification, regulatory reform, and "developing the skills and education workers need to land well-paying positions."

  • Improving education

Excerpt: " Real improvement will require a bold vision, including innovative teaching practices, incentives, and flexibility that promote quality, and a variety of school models to meet differing student needs and society’s needs."

  • Government reform"

McKenna wants to reform Washington's government by "promoting performance and utilizing competitive processes," through performance audits, required performance contracts, budgeting long-term, and reducing the size and cost of state general government.

  • Agriculture

Excerpt: "We need to make sure that our goods can be delivered efficiently, economically, and in a timely manner throughout the entire year."

2012 Polls

Jay Inslee v. Rob McKenna
Poll Jay Inslee (D) Rob McKenna (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
February 16-19, 2012
Survey USA
May 8-9, 2012
Elway Research
June 13-16, 2012
Public Policy Polling
June 14-17, 2012
SurveyUSA/KING 5 News
July 2012
SurveyUSA/KING 5 News
August 3
Elway Poll
September 12
Rasmussen Reports Poll
(September 26, 2012)
AVERAGES 42.38% 42.5% 14.63% +/-4.11 682.63
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

2012 Endorsements


Money in the race


See also: Washington gubernatorial election, 2012-Campaign Finance

McKenna's leading financial support in the 2012 governor race comes from the Republican Governor's Association. The organization contributed $11.38 million to the effort to defeat McKenna's Democratic opponent Jay Inslee, mostly in independent expenditures to fund an advertising campaign against Inslee. Countering the RGA's influence in the race, Our Washington, which is made up of the Democratic Governor's Association and several labor groups, gave $7.9 million to help defeat McKenna.[59]

On October 17th, The Seattle Times published an internally produced full page advertisement in support of McKenna. According to the Times' vice president of public affairs, the ad was the beginning of an experimental independent expenditure campaign aimed at raising revenues and awareness about the influence of political advertising. Although the Times already endorsed McKenna, the VP asked readers to give them "the benefit of the doubt" that the news department was not involved in the campaign (which will cost the paper over $75,000 in McKenna ads) and that it would not compromise the quality the publication's election-news coverage.[60]

Rob McKenna Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
First Report[61]July 17, 2012$0.00$1,061,520.87$(558,282.67)$3,716,967.81
Pre-Primary ReportJuly 31, 2012$3,716,967.81$489,789.98$(8,803,432.35)$3,326,414.64
Post-Primary Report[62]September 10, 2012$3,326,414.64$1,061,459.45$(727,547.18)$3,661,988.34
First GeneralOctober 16, 2012$3,661,988.34$3,575,626.50$(5,046,105.62)$2,191,682.82
Running totals



See also: Washington gubernatorial election, 2012 and Washington state executive official elections, 2012

McKenna was a Republican candidate for Governor of Washington. The incumbent, Chris Gregoire (D), announced in mid-2011 she would not seek another term in office. In the August 7th blanket primary, McKenna finished second - enough to earn him a place on the general election ballot in November along with former Congressman Jay Inslee (D).[63] McKenna conceded the hotly contested race to Inslee three days after voting ended, on the evening of November 9, 2012. Though the vote count was not yet complete at the time of his concession, Inslee's expanding lead was sufficient to erase any hope of a turnaround victory for McKenna.[2]

Due to the governor's race, McKenna did not seek a third term as attorney general in 2012. King County Councilman Bob Ferguson (D) won the attorney general election on November 6, 2012.

Governor of Washington General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJay Inslee 51.5% 1,582,802
     Republican Rob McKenna 48.5% 1,488,245
Total Votes 3,071,047
Election Results via Washington Secretary of State.
Governor of Washington, Primary, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJay Inslee 47.1% 664,534
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRob McKenna 42.9% 604,872
     Republican Shahram Hadian 3.3% 46,169
     Democratic Rob Hill 3.2% 45,453
     Independent James White 1% 13,764
     No Party Preference Christian Joubert 0.7% 10,457
     Independent L. Dale Sorgen 0.7% 9,734
     Republican Max Sampson 0.6% 8,753
     Republican Javier O. Lopez 0.4% 6,131
Total Votes 1,409,867
Election Results via Washington Secretary of State (dead link)'


  • 2008 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary
  • Rob McKenna ran unopposed in this contest

On November 4, 2008, Rob McKenna won re-election to the office of Washington Attorney General. He defeated John Ladenburg in the general election.

Washington Attorney General, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRob McKenna Incumbent 59.5% 1,689,764
     Democratic John Ladenburg 40.5% 1,152,174
Total Votes 2,841,938
Election Results Via: Washington Secretary of State


2004 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary[64]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Rob McKenna 77.6%
     Republican Party Mike Vaska 22.4%
Total Votes 472,764

On November 2, 2004, Rob McKenna won election to the office of Washington Attorney General. He defeated Deborah Senn (D), J. Bradley Gibson (L) and Paul Richmond (G) in the general election.

Washington Attorney General, 2004
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRob McKenna 53% 1,425,368
     Democratic Deborah Senn 43.3% 1,163,964
     Libertarian J. Bradley Gibson 2.1% 56,792
     Green Paul Richmond 1.6% 44,020
Total Votes 2,690,144
Election Results Via: Washington Secretary of State

McKenna based his 2004 campaign for the office of Attorney General around three areas of protection he promised to bring to Washingtonians: protection of the safety of families, by fighting crimes such as identity theft, internet fraud, and child pornography, and supporting local police, sheriffs, and prosecutors; protection of rights, by controlling regulation and supporting the public's right to know what the government is doing; and protection of pocketbooks, by counseling state agencies to avoid costly trial and litigation, bringing reform in the matter of reducing what some see as unfair burdens placed on doctors, hospitals, and other professionals.

Campaign contributions


McKenna lost the election to the position of Governor of Washington in 2012. During that election cycle, McKenna raised a total of $13,804,449.


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Rob McKenna's donors each year.[65] Click [show] for more information.


Felons and public records

McKenna was criticized for an amicus brief he published in early June 2008 that suggested that convicted felons do not have the same constitutional rights to open records as that of the average law-abiding citizen does. Shortly after this opinion was released, a Franklin County judge ruled that Allan Parmelee, a convicted arsonist who while in jail made numerous open record requests for personal information about various people in the legal system, had no legitimate purpose in requesting records from the jail where he was located.

Multi-state lawsuit against Obamacare

The day after joining the legal effort to challenge President Obama's healthcare overhaul, a rally organized by the conservative political action group Americans for Prosperity was held on the steps of the State Legislative Building, in which between 800 and 4,000 individuals came out in support McKenna's decision to sue the federal government over the controversial health care legislation. Speaking at the event, the Washington Attorney General stated that "the lawsuit is about individual rights and that the federal government can’t force us to go out and buy what they tell us to buy.” Also present at the rally were Republican state senators Mike Carrell and Val Stevens as well as state representative Tom Campbell.[66][67]

Since announcing the suit, Democrats within the State Legislature have made moves toward blocking, or at least severely hindering, the litigation, such as enacting "a budget proviso to block McKenna from spending state money on the lawsuit" in addition to filing "a broad public-records request with McKenna's office, demanding to see all documents related to his decision."[68] McKenna ordered a modified security lockdown of the Highway Licenses Building on Friday, March 26, 2010, in anticipation of the progressive political activist group, Fuse Washington, delivering a petition containing eighteen thousand signatures requesting "McKenna to drop his suit and not to sacrifice Washington’s health for partisan politics.”[69]


McKenna currently resides in Bellevue, Washington, with his wife, Marilyn, and their four children.[70]

Recent news

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All stories may not be relevant to this individual due to the nature of the search engine.

Rob McKenna News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 Washington State Office of the Attorney General, "About Rob McKenna," accessed October 5, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 Spokesman Review, "Democrat Inslee will be Washington governor," November 9, 2012
  3. Associated Press, "13 attorneys general sue over health care overhaul" 23 March, 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Seattle Times, "If 'Obamacare' falls, McKenna could pay political price," Mar 26, 2012
  5. ACORN "Attorneys General Take Action: Real Leadership in Fighting Foreclosures" June 2008
  6. Majority in Mississippi, "Jim Hood Received An “A” From ACORN In 2008" 17 Sept. 2009
  7. Rob McKenna Official Campaign Website, "Issues," accessed September 6, 2012 (dead link)
  8. " October 6, 2012 (dead link)
  9. " October 14, 2012 (dead link)
  10. " October 14, 2012 (dead link)
  11. " September 30, 2012
  12. " October 9, 2012 (dead link)
  13. " October 7, 2012 (dead link)
  14. " October 14, 2012 (dead link)
  15. " October 13, 2012 (dead link)
  16. " September 24, 2012
  17. " June 20, 2012 (dead link)
  18. " May 18, 2012
  19. " October 1, 2012
  20. " October 8, 2012
  21. " June 11, 2012 (dead link)
  22. " July 26, 2012
  23. " June 13, 2012 (dead link)
  24. " October 2, 2012
  25. " September, 2011
  26. " June 20, 2012
  27. " July, 2012 (dead link)
  28. " February 2, 2012
  29. " June 20, 2012 (dead link)
  30. " June 20, 2012 (dead link)
  31. " 2012 (dead link)
  32. " 2012 (dead link)
  33. " April 17, 2012
  34. " September 29, 2012
  35. " June, 2012 (dead link)
  36. " June, 2012 (dead link)
  37. " May 23, 2012 (dead link)
  38. " June 22, 2012 (dead link)
  39. " May 7, 2012 (dead link)
  40. " March 19, 2012 (dead link)
  41. " May 23, 2012 (dead link)
  42. " June 11, 2012 (dead link)
  43. " October 6, 2012 (dead link)
  44. " September 4, 2012 (dead link)
  45. " September 4, 2012 (dead link)
  46. " September 4, 2012 (dead link)
  47. " September 4, 2012 (dead link)
  48. " September 4, 2012 (dead link)
  49. " September 4, 2012 (dead link)
  50. " June 11, 2012 (dead link)
  51. The Daily Caller, "In the other Washington, a rising GOP star," July 30, 2012
  52., "LA governor Bobby Jindal endorses Rob McKenne," July 11, 2012
  53. Tri-City Herald, "New Jersey governor visits kennewick," October 5, 2012
  54. YouTube, "Governor Susana Martinez Endorses Rob McKenna," October 5, 2012
  55. The Daily Caller, "In the other Washington, a rising GOP star," July 30, 2012
  56. The Daily Caller, "In the other Washington, a rising GOP star," July 30, 2012
  57. " October 14, 2012 (dead link)
  58. Rob McKenna Official Campaign Website, "Mayoral Coalition Endorses McKenna," August 21, 2012
  59. The Seattle Times, "Republican Governor's Association now in for $11.3 million for Rob McKenna, October 16, 2012
  60., "Seattle times to advertise for McKenna on its own dime," October 17, 2012
  61. Washington Public Disclosure Commission, "Rob McKenna," accessed July 19, 2012
  62. Washington Public Disclosure Commission, "Rob McKenna reports," accessed September 11, 2012
  63. Washington Secretary of State, "August 7, 2012 Primary Results: State executives," accessed August 8, 2012
  64. Washington Secretary of State - 2004 Republican Primary Results
  65. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  66. YouTube, "Atty Gen Rob McKenna Represents We the People" 28 March, 2010
  67. The Olympian, "Big crowd at Capitol to support McKenna" 28 March, 2010
  68. The Seattle Times, "Republican McKenna has Olympia Dems seeing red" 23 March, 2010
  69. The News Tribune, "Olympia: McKenna orders security tightened for health care lawsuit protests" 26 March, 2010
  70., "Washington state attorney general Rob McKenna," accessed September 5, 2011
Political offices
Preceded by
Christine Gregoire
Washington Attorney General
Succeeded by
Bob Ferguson (D)