Inslee, McKenna intensify rivalry in debate

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by KING 5 News and Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on October 11, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 11 at 11:12 PM

From Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna - two very different philosophies for state government and two very different debating styles.

They've been running against each other for 16 months. With ballots going out next week and polls showing a tight race, the candidates for governor came ready to engage.

“His plan lacks specifics, how much, how soon?” said McKenna.

McKenna blamed Democrats for letting state funding of education erode over the past two decades, Inslee said finding efficiencies in state government and health care will free up more money for schools.

"Well, I have very specific plans on this, you know this lean management system that I'm going to embed throughout the state of Washington, when it was used at Salmon Creek hospital in Vancouver, I was there a couple weeks ago, they have reduced their overtime cost by 60-percent,” said Inslee.

Also debated was Inslee's latest commercials attacking McKenna for supporting a plan that would have the state provide more funding for schools so they don't have to rely as much on local levies.

"It will not raise a dime to put net dollars into our schools. I think you might call that a gimmick, you m might call that a shell game,” said Inslee.

"Congressman Inslee's obviously convinced himself it's a gimmick -- no one else agrees with him. None of the people who have actually been working on the issue ... stand for Children,” said McKenna.

From same-sex marriage to Medicaid the two disagreed on many issues, including whether Washington is a good place to do business.

 "It's too expensive to do business here.  We're one of the ten most expensive states in America in which to run a company and to employ people,” said McKenna.

"Rob's numbers are simply not factual. Forbes' magazine a couple of months ago rated Washington the 7th best state to do business in,” said Inslee.

Thursday's debate offered the candidates their most prominent stage yet, with the meeting airing live on several TV stations in the region after the vice presidential debate. The candidates didn't disappoint, laying out competing visions in which there was rarely agreement:

-- On the issue of President Barack Obama's health care law, Inslee said implementation was necessary in order to avoid the hidden cost of having uninsured people getting treatment in emergency rooms. McKenna urged caution before expanding Medicaid under the law, arguing that the state may be left on the hook with costs it can't shoulder.

-- On the issue of gay marriage, McKenna said he wouldn't vote to for it. Inslee supports the referendum to approve gay marriage.

-- On the issue of legalized marijuana, a proposal that Washington voters will decided on this year, Inslee said he would work to defend the decision of voters. McKenna questioned the consequences, noting that the federal government may take action and that the law could threaten the state's existing medical marijuana system.

McKenna and Inslee are locked in what is widely considered one of the most competitive races for governor in the country. Both sides have raised about $10 million, and outside groups are also flooding the state with cash, trying to influence the election's outcome.

A recent Elway Poll showed the candidates running about even. The candidates are set to debate one more time next week.

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