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Tacoma News Tribune: Analyst Looks at 2012 WA Governor's Race and Cantwell Race

By Josh Feit March 17, 2011

The Tacoma News Tribune got two fat posts out of bigwig east coast political consultant Larry Sabato, who looked at both U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-WA) 2012 chances and called her the "automatic favorite."
She doesn’t have a particularly high profile, nor does she have an intense popular following ... But she’s a Democrat and an incumbent in a state that isn’t inclined to support Republicans ... President Obama should win handily in Washington, as he did in 2008, and that ought to be enough for Cantwell.

Sabato also looked at what's in store for the governor's race:
This is likely to be one of the most competitive gubernatorial elections in the country in 2012. While she has made no formal announcement and has been careful not to disclose her intentions, Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to retire after serving two terms. She has never achieved deep popularity—in part because she was unable to overcome the controversial way she became chief executive in the extremely close, disputed election of 2004.

Normally, one would think the Republican nominee, likely to be state Attorney General Rob McKenna, would have an edge. It may work out that way. But Congressman Jay Inslee, the probable Democratic candidate, will be a fierce competitor in a state that has become a Democratic stronghold. President Obama is the favorite to win Washington again in 2012, creating coattails for Inslee. The last Republican to serve as governor in this state was John Spellman, a one-termer elected in 1980. This is the longest gubernatorial dry spell for the GOP in the nation—but sooner or later, dry spells end. Will 2012 be the year
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