Rob McKenna, Republican Loner
The consensus Republican response to the Supreme Court's decision to uphold most of the federal health care law has been a vow to continue to fight for the law's repeal in Congress. But what's good for Mitt Romney and others isn't always so for Rob McKenna, the Republican attorney general running for governor in Washington. McKenna, who opposed the law's individual mandate provision the court upheld, doesn't think the fight to shred the entire measure should continue on Capitol Hill.
"We have to live in the world we find ourselves in," McKenna told Hotline On Call on Friday. On Thursday, he held a news conference in which he argued that reversing the entire law would be akin to the Democratic effort to jam it through. "To completely blow it up I think means, I think, that we are committing the same sin, but in reverse," McKenna said, according to the Seattle Times.
Running in a blue state that hasn't elected Republican governor since 1980 means McKenna will (smartly) often find himself at odds with Romney. Democrats are trying to tie McKenna to the national party and cast him as a partisan. On Thursday, Inslee said "I am the person in this race who has zealously guarded that right of Washingtonians. It is a difference between myself and my opponent."
Thursday's news was lousy for McKenna. He joined a multi-state suit that ultimately failed to repeal the individual mandate. And it's clear he would like to turn the page on the debate.
But Democrats hoping to use the ruling to damage McKenna's standing in the fall may be disappointed. It's much more difficult to tie a candidate to his or her national party in a gubernatorial race than it is in a Senate campaign. And while health care is a hot topic now, it will likely be secondary to the local economic debate that should dominate the gubernatorial discussion in the fall.
"There is lot of chest pounding going on at state Democratic headquarters and the Inslee campaign -- but it is just that," McKenna told On Call.