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The bizarre Washington governor's debateOctober 2, 2012 @ 8:50 pm (Updated: 2:16 am - 10/4/12 )
Rob McKenna opened Tuesday night's governor's debate speaking Spanish. Jay Inslee countered with a "Buenos Noches."
After that, Inslee tried to lump McKenna in with Republicans and Mitt Romney.
McKenna tried to make Inslee seem uninformed with quips of "wow" and "I didn't hear him answer the question."
Both candidates were comfortable with the first question because they were able to repeat their well-rehearsed plans for job growth.
"We make it too expensive for small businesses especially to employ people in the state," says McKenna, as he talked about lowering costs through a series of reforms.
The Republican says those include reforming workers comp and the business and occupation tax.
Inslee says the "secret sauce" in Washington is the power of innovation.
"We create, we invent, we build," he says as he referred to his 75-point plan for helping businesses of all sizes "to capture the opportunities inherent in an innovative, technologically savvy industrial growth."
McKenna says the only jobs Inslee will be adding is through creating another state agency "The Office of Economic Competitiveness and Development" to hire more state employees. Inslee says his plan will break up a dysfunctional state agency to work with businesses.
Now to the unscripted moments. When Inslee had a chance to ask his opponent a question, he focused on the environment, phrasing his question this way:
"Mitt Romney and you talk about reducing environmental standards, what of our environmental state standards should be lessened to go down to federal standards," Inslee asks.
"I love the way that Congressman Inslee tries to nationalize the race. Notice the clever reference to Mitt Romney, for example," says McKenna. "It's very transparent and kind of funny actually."
McKenna then explained he does not propose cutting any of Washington's environmental standards.
When Inslee had a chance to follow up his response was, in my opinion, the most bizarre statement of the night.
"We are not Louisiana. That's not who we are as a state. We've got the most precious environment in the history of the solar system," says Inslee, "and to protect it we have to make our own decisions about our environmental standards."
The most precious environment in the history of the solar system? No one had mentioned Louisiana prior to Inslee's comment.
A few new topics came up during this second televised debate including dealing with gangs, farm labor issues, and marijuana.
Many of us in Washington don't realize our state has the 12th largest farming region in the nation with apple, hops and mint crops. The crops are at risk every year though because of farm labor shortage. What would the candidates do about that?
"State's role is to have a governor who both understands the depth and the importance of agriculture to the State of Washington," says Inslee. He's bucked hay and helped in orchards, so he gets it. He says a bipartisan consensus is needed for immigration reform. He supports the DREAM Act .
McKenna's response, "If Congressman Inslee were sincere about wanting comprehensive immigration reform he should have stayed in Congress instead of quitting half way through his term."
On the subject of controlling gangs, Inslee says the state needs to do a better job providing law enforcement with the resources they need to do their jobs. It also needs to come up with a "preventative system to make sure we get to these potentially dangerous young people to get them out of gangs and back into school."
McKenna says the biggest challenge in dealing with gangs is convincing the legislature this is a real problem because they don't think it is. "They don't hear gunfire at night where they live," he says.
Both candidates think the state's marijuana Initiative 502 should be defeated. McKenna says it's "not a well thought out law" and Inslee says it conflicts with federal laws against marijuana possession.
Heading into the debate in Yakima, the most recent poll gives Democrat Jay Inslee a six percentage point lead over Republican Rob McKenna.
By LINDA THOMAS
Screen grabs from the gubernatorial debate televised on KCTS 9
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