Today's winner: Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.

Still trying to deflect criticism that he's a "quitter," ex-Congressman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee is stumbling into another campaign trail gaffe. (Re: the "quitter" stuff, Inslee crossed ten lanes of traffic this morning on KUOW to avoid the question to find safety in his pre-fab script, equating his "hard decision" to quit Congress with his vote against the Iraq war and—non sequitur award—he added: "Without me in the full-time governor's race, what would be missing is someone who would get people back to work." We fail to understand how campaigning for governor is helping anyone other than Inslee find a job.)

In "full-time," eh?

The next awkward campaign issue for Inslee: He has refused to participate in a debate sponsored by the Association of Washington Business, the Seattle Times reports. Inslee's campaign argues that the AWB negotiated in bad faith by scheduling the debate without consulting with Inslee.

The AWB, the state business lobby, disputes Inslee's account, saying they offered numerous dates for the debate.

"If he indeed skips the event," the Times reports, "Inslee would be the only major gubernatorial candidate to do so since AWB began hosting the business debates in 1992."

[Speaking of the AWB, not sure if we're winners or losers here, but a reader pointed out that PubliCola was cited in AWB's Washington Business magazine's  "Water Cooler" gossip column last month, quoting our prognosis that "the most politically important reaction" to Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget "will come from the business community."

The rest of that AWB-approved analysis: "Why? Because last time, big business, particularly the American Beverage Association, went all in against the idea, raising $16 million to repeal the legislature’s tax on soda and bottled water. Big business won with 60 percent of the vote."]