SPOKANE, Wash. -- Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee faced each other Tuesday in the first debate of the 2012 race for governor in Washington, sparring over health insurance and education.
At a downtown Spokane event, the Democrat Inslee highlighted his calls for getting more Washingtonians into the workplace in his opening statements. His Republican opponent McKenna said Democrats, who have held the governor’s mansion since 1984, are “out of ideas.”
“They just keep insisting we need higher taxes,” McKenna said.
An early flash point was over the new federal health care law, the constitutionality of which the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on this month. McKenna, who joined other GOP attorneys general across the country in opposition to the law President Barack Obama signed, said the legislation was partisan and flawed. He said if it’s struck down states could pursue other options, like allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines to increase competition.
Inslee, who as a congressman supported the legislation, said key reforms like allowing older children to stay on their parents’ plans and providing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions would be lost if the law is tossed out.
“If you are a breast cancer survivor, you ought to be able to get health care in our state,” Inslee said.
Both men said they would not raise taxes to increase the money spent on education - something Gov. Chris Gregoire has said is needed.
KING 5's Robert Mak was in Spokane covering the first debate between the two men seeking to replace Gregoire, who is not seeking a third term. The following are his tweets of the event.
The debate was sponsored by the Association of Washington Business. Recent polling shows that McKenna and Inslee are locked in a close race.