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AG candidate Mike Vaska says he’ll be ‘independent watchdog’ for Washingtonians

A voter casts her ballot during primary elections on March 10, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The Washington state primary is on Tuesday, Aug. 4. In the race for Attorney General, there are three Republican challengers against incumbent Bob Ferguson. Candidate Mike Vaska, who has the endorsement of former Attorney General Rob McKenna, joined the Jason Rantz Show to discuss his campaign.

Washington state Attorney General race by the numbers

Vaska is up against two Republicans who are competent attorneys, so Jason asked him to explain why he would be the better choice.

“They are great people, … I respect them quite a bit, but I’m the only professional attorney in this race,”  Vaska said. “I’ve been a professional attorney for 30 years, and I think we’re going to get partisanship out of the attorney general’s office. We need a professional attorney to do that.”

“I’m the only challenger that has any political or leadership experience in the business community. My opponents are very nice people, but they’re new to politics and Bob Ferguson is going to be tough to beat. … Running against Bob is not a place for on-the-job training,” he added.

Vaska says he’s been involved with partisan politics, civic politics, and in leadership roles “bringing people together to win elections” for almost 30 years.

“I do have … the endorsement, and very active support of former Attorney General Rob McKenna as well as all eight former statewide elected Republicans,” Vaska said. “They know what it takes to win a statewide race, and they think I’m the guy that’s got that.”

Vaska expects to get a lot of Republican votes, as well as votes from independents and some Democrats who may be fed up with the “lawlessness on our streets” and the defund the police movement.

“I’m the only challenger that has that experience of building these broad coalitions to win elections. And I think that, that’s what’s going be my trump card against Bob Ferguson,” he said.

Defunding the police

All the Republican candidates support police officers and law enforcement in general, Jason pointed out, but as an attorney general, what can actually be done in regards to the defunding conversation?

“Well, the City Council vote on Monday to defund the police is a really, really big moment, not just for the city, but for the state. And I really think for the entire country,” Vaska said. “… I got in this campaign because justice was under assault at the King County courthouse and we were losing control of our streets … to homelessness and lawlessness even back then.”

McKenna has said that the attorney general is the only position in state government who is an advocate for justice, the justice system, and law enforcement, Vaska explained.

“And our current attorney general, Bob Ferguson, has gone AWOL on that responsibility,” he said. “He’s completely silent. That’s because he’s afraid of Kshama Sawant and his own partisan base.”

“I will not be silent,” he continued. “I will work hard every day to ensure that law enforcement feels like they have an ally in state government. Right now, we need to rally support not just in Seattle, but around this entire state to fight this defund police movement, and we’ve got to stand with the citizens of Seattle to help them because they really, really need our help.”

Vaska said he will fight for the justice system, equality of justice, and be an ally of police.

Delaying the election

Attorney General Ferguson announced Thursday that he would sue if President Trump tried to delay the election, something the president doesn’t have the actual power to do. If Vaska was Attorney General and saw the same tweet that Ferguson saw, that the rest of us saw, how would he react?

Washington AG Ferguson: ‘We will see President Trump in court’ if he delays November election

“Well, I think one thing we’ve all learned is that the president puts things in tweets that he never acts on,” Vaska said. “Obviously, the sanctity of our elections is is so important, but let’s be clear: Bob Ferguson has been talking about this phantom issue of the election not being held for six months. He wants to turn our attention away from lawlessness on the streets, which is an issue he could do something about, to all of these national issues — it’s not just voting — all these issues that he can’t do anything about. The only thing he’s gaining by beating the drum on this is support among his partisan base and fundraising.”

Vaska says he doesn’t care who the president is, but if they do something targeted at the people of Washington state, he will bring a lawsuit to stop it.

The big issues

Vaska detailed three issues that he would pay attention to as attorney general, if elected.

“Homelessness is number one,” he said. “… It’s part humanitarian and part rule-of-law related. We’ve got to deal with the real humanitarian needs of the people on the street, but we can’t let the criminals hiding among the homeless continue to make our streets feel unsafe. So I will create a task force to focus the state’s energy and resources and work with local communities to solve homelessness.”

“Number two, the economy is getting worse, not better,” Vaska said.

He said he would follow McKenna’s model of running a task force that makes it easier for small businesses to survive and new businesses to emerge.

“I think the third thing, … cyber crime,” Vaska said. “Cyber crime is a huge issue in our state. And when I announced my campaign in late March, during the worst of the pandemic, I called out the need for a cyber crime unit at the attorney general’s office because we have among the highest rates of cyber crime in the country, according to the FBI. People told me that was kind of boring. … And then, of course, we had the half a billion dollar theft by cybercriminals from the Employment Security Department, and we need to get to the bottom of that rotten barrel and figure out what exactly happened there and why.”

“As attorney General, I will be an independent watchdog for the people of the state on issues like that,” he added.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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