State attorney general candidates Reagan Dunn (Republican) and Bob Ferguson (Democrat) faced off this afternoon at a CityClub forum at Town Hall. Perhaps most surprisingly, Dunn expressed his unequivocal support for marriage equality and a woman's right to choose abortion, telling a questioner, "I support the freedom to marry. I also support a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions."

Dunn and Ferguson did differ, however, on a couple of other issues that have frequently arisen in the AG's race.

On current AG and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna's decision to file suit against the entire Affordable Care Act, Dunn said, "I would have challenged the individual mandate portion. I believed that it was a violation of the Commerce Clause. ... There are parts of the law that I liked ... but, in general, yes, I would have challenged it."

Ferguson's response: "If I had been attorney general, I would not have joined the lawsuit seeking to declare the entire national health care act unconstitutional. ... I did feel Rob McKenna had the legal authority to file the lawsuit, but I did not think it was a good use of the resources of the office, which are stretched thin."

On medical marijuana and Initiative 502, which would legalize and regulate marijuana sales in Washington State, Dunn said, "As a federal prosecutor, I put in jail and prosecuted a lot of marijuana smugglers---thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds. Personally, I support marijuana for medicinal purposes. My stepfather used it. .. [but under 502] we will be exactly contrary to federal law. ... I think marijuana should be a Schedule 2 narcotic for medicinal purposes.

Ferguson responded: "I support medical marijuana. ... If the initiative on legalization is approved this year, obviously I look forward to defending that initiative in court."

They did essentially agree on the role of the attorney general---"managing the largest law firm in the state," as Dunn put it (as opposed to being "the state's top cop," a common Republican refrain). However, Dunn won points by promising to implement casual Fridays at the AG's office---"That's a huge issue" for suit-and-tie-bound attorneys, Dunn joked.

Seattle Channel taped the entire debate, which should be available on their web site shortly.
Show Comments