Add Washington State to the list of gubernatorial pick up opportunities available to the GOP in 2012.
Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington, a two-term Democrat who has steered the state through a period of painful budget cuts, said Monday that she would not seek a third term.
Her decision was not unexpected, and it clears the way for what some political observers believe will be one of the closest gubernatorial races in the country in 2012. Rob McKenna, the state’s respected Republican attorney general, announced his long-anticipated candidacy last week. Representative Jay Inslee, a popular Democrat whose district includes parts of the politically crucial Seattle region, has signaled for months that he would run if Ms. Gregoire chose not to.
After her announcement on Monday, which she made at the governor’s mansion in Olympia, Ms. Gregoire said in response to a reporter’s question that she had called Mr. Inslee and told him that she “hoped that he would consider running for office.”
Republicans have not won a race for governor here since 1980, but Democrats have not always won by wide margins.