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Candidates For Washington Attorney General Spar In First Live Debate

Deborah Wang

The two leading candidates for attorney general for the state of Washington held their first live debate yesterday in Spokane. Democrat Bob Ferguson and Republican Reagan Dunn are seeking the seat being vacated by Rob McKenna, who is running for governor. KUOW's Deborah Wang reports it was a spirited and sometimes sharp–edged debate.


Republican Reagan Dunn and Democrat Bob Ferguson are long–time colleagues on the King County Council, but the debate was anything but collegial.

Dunn is a former prosecutor who served in the US Attorney's Office in Seattle. Throughout the debate, he touted his experience in criminal prosecutions, claiming it makes him a better candidate for the job.

Dunn: "Folks, I've been there. I've stared into the terrified eyes of a six–year–old child whose stepfather was molesting him, taking pictures and trading those pictures on the Internet. I have stared down some of the nation's toughest criminals and made sure that they were the only thing, that I was the only thing between them and the freedom to terrorize others."

On the other hand, Bob Ferguson is a former attorney in private practice. He says his experience in complex civil cases would make him a better attorney general.

Ferguson: "My opponent talks about his criminal prosecutor experience. That's good experience, but good if you are running for prosecuting attorney. We are running for attorney general."

And over the course of the hour, the two men took just about every opportunity to attack each other.

They raised embarrassing incidents from their youth. Dunn attacked Ferguson for defending a convicted cop killer while he was in law school. Ferguson said he was just trying to get the inmate a lawyer. And he pointed out that Dunn needed a lawyer once, when he was arrested many years ago. Ferguson also made an issue of Dunn's voting record in the King County Council.

Ferguson: "Reagan, since you have come on the King County Council, you've missed more votes at King County Council meetings than anyone else on the King County Council.

Dunn: "Mr. Ferguson, I've just pulled our attendance records yesterday between you and me and what we have done. I was number two in the council last year for attendance, you were number one. I strongly encourage you to back up your assertion that I missed more votes."

Ferguson: "Yesterday was a good example, Reagan. We had a King County Council meeting, you were there for the roll call, you were there for the photo op at the beginning of the meeting, then you walked out the door and missed every single vote."

Ferguson also accused Dunn of voting to cut mental health programs. Dunn accused Ferguson of voting to raise taxes 18 times.

The two men did agree on one thing, though. They both oppose efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and they plan to vote against I–502 in the fall.

I'm Deborah Wang, KUOW News.

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