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April 1, 2011 at 1:24 PM

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Gregoire fundraising suggests 3rd term bid unlikely

Posted by Jim Brunner

Will Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire step aside, or could she seek a third term in 2012?

Publicly, Gregoire has said she isn't ruling out a third-term bid. Some of her allies have sent those signals behind the scenes, too. But that may be more about warding off lame-duck stigma than anything else.

Gregoire's campaign fundraising sends a pretty clear signal that she's done.

Her campaign had just $44,312 in the bank at the end of February, according to state Public Disclosure Commission filings.

Yes, it's early.

But at the same point in the 2008 election cycle, Gregoire's campaign had more than $1.2 million in the bank.

Gregoire told POLITICO she'll make a formal decision by "early summer."

Meanwhile, the early indicators point to Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee and Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna as the leading contenders to replace Gregoire.

McKenna's fundraising, ostensibly for Attorney General, is far ahead of where it was at this point in the 2008 cycle. He's already raised $800,000 and has $400,000 in the bank (through February). He'd only raised about $200,000 by this time four years ago and had $145,000 in the bank.

Inslee is sitting on an even bigger campaign stash for his congressional committee. As of the end of 2010 he had nearly $1.2 million in the bank. (Inslee also has informally lined up top Democratic consultant Christian Sinderman.)

Both Inslee and McKenna can transfer their current campaign funds to a gubernatorial campaign committee if they get permission from individual donors, according to PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson.

While Inslee is the likely Democratic establishment choice now, that could still change if he fumbles early. Some insiders have talked up King County Executive Dow Constantine as a possible contender, but he has not indicated an interest.

State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown of Spokane also gets mentioned, though she has recently talked about possibly running for lieutenant governor instead.

On the Republican side, Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant says he's exploring a gubernatorial run.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

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Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

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Covers local government.

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