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Originally published November 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 5, 2008 at 1:03 PM

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Rob McKenna wins second term

State Attorney General Rob McKenna won a second term Tuesday, perhaps offering him a steppingstone to higher office. McKenna, a Bellevue Republican, handily defeated underfunded Democratic opponent John Ladenburg, Pierce County's executive, winning by a comfortable margin in most of the state.

Seattle Times staff reporter

State Attorney General Rob McKenna won a second term Tuesday, perhaps offering him a steppingstone to higher office.

McKenna, a Bellevue Republican, handily defeated underfunded Democratic opponent John Ladenburg, Pierce County's executive, winning by a comfortable margin in most of the state.

Ladenburg called McKenna to concede just before 11 p.m. "I congratulated him on his victory. It was very impressive. We probably ran the cleanest race in the state and I'm proud of that," Ladenburg said.

McKenna called Ladenburg a friend and a "classy guy."

He said the size of his victory "affirms that I'm taking the office of attorney general in the right direction."

In parts of the state, such as Thurston and Snohomish counties, voters heavily favored Barack Obama and Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire, but also gave McKenna a commanding edge.

"This is a state where voters pride themselves on voting for the person first and party second," McKenna said.

McKenna, 46, a former Metropolitan King County Council member, is considered one of the GOP's best prospects to run for governor or the U.S. Senate in the future.

McKenna said it's too early for such speculation. "Man, I don't even want to start thinking about another campaign at this point. I'm looking forward to having just one full-time job," he said.

He has noted that predecessors Slade Gorton, Ken Eikenberry and Christine Gregoire each served three terms as attorney general before running for higher office.

McKenna outraised Ladenburg in campaign contributions by more than 3 to 1, collecting $1.87 million to $566,000. Plus, the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national group that promotes promising politicians, spent $900,000 on ads criticizing Ladenburg while praising McKenna.

Ladenburg's campaign stressed that he had more courtroom and managerial experience than McKenna.

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But the challenger's message never took off, in part because McKenna had a scandal-free first term and could point to progress he made fighting identity theft, methamphetamine labs and sex offenders. He also helped win multimillion-dollar settlements against mortgage lenders Ameriquest and Countrywide Financial.

McKenna said he would continue with many of the same priorities, but would also crack down on prescription-drug abuse, domestic violence and abuse of vulnerable elderly adults.

McKenna and Ladenburg held several lively but civil debates. Neither sunk to the kind of personal attacks rampant in the governor's race.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174

or byoung@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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