Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., will announce next week that he will run for governor, a Democratic source confirmed to Hotline On Call.
Speculation has surrounded Inslee's interest in the race since Washington Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire announced she wouldn't run for reelection early last week. Gregoire said she had encouraged Inslee to jump into the race to succeed her.
(RELATED: House Members Seeking Other Seats)
Attorney General Rob McKenna, who kicked off his campaign earlier this month, is considered the prohibitive favorite to win the Republican nomination. The state has not elected a Republican governor since 1980, but a match-up between McKenna and Inslee would be one of the premier gubernatorial contests of the cycle.
This won't be the first gubernatorial bid for Inslee, who finished fifth in the all-party primary in 1996. Inslee has represented the state's 1st district since 1999. He was first elected to the House in 1992 from the state's more conservative 4th district, but he lost his reelection bid to Republican Doc Hastings in 1994.
He has focused on technology policy during his tenure in the House, an important issue in his district, which has a significant Microsoft presence.
Inslee's decision to run for governor opens up his House seat, and already several Democrats have been looking to succeed him. Anticipating Inslee's gubernatorial plans, former state Rep. Laura Ruderman announced her candidacy for his seat earlier this month.
One Democratic strategist familiar with Washington state politics said former Congressional candidate Darcy Burner, a progressive activist, is also considering a campaign.
Inslee's suburban Seattle district is comfortably Democratic, giving President Obama 63 percent of the vote in 2008. But its lines will change during redistricting.
Updated at 4:02 p.m.
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