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Wash. Gov. Debate: Sparring Over Taxes, Tiff Over Tax Returns, Light Moments

The candidates for Washington governor sparred over taxes and personal tax returns in their second official debate Wednesday night. The face-off took place on the Vancouver campus of Washington State University.

On stage, Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna stood elbow-to-elbow at podiums. But on the issues they were far apart.

Early in the debate they were asked to critique each other’s plans for getting Washington’s economy going again. McKenna said business owners aren’t buying Inslee’s proposed Research and Development tax credit.

“What I’m hearing them say is that a one-time tax credit isn’t going to cause them to hire more people they need ongoing relief.”

Inslee fired back at McKenna’s proposal to allow private insurance companies to offer workers’ compensation insurance.

“My opponent’s plans I’m afraid just aren’t going to fly.”

Things got more prickly when the candidates got to ask each other a series of questions. Inslee wanted to know why McKenna won’t release his tax returns.

“Why do you feel that you’re exempt from this expectation of full financial disclosure with Washingtonians?"

McKenna responded, “I think I’m exempt from a lot of your expectations, Congressman that’s for sure."

Later, McKenna tried to turn the trust issue back on Inslee. He questioned whether voters could believe the Democrat when he says “I am not proposing to raise taxes.”

"I am not proposing and I will not propose tax rate increases," McKenna said. "We don’t need to raise taxes in this state, tax revenue is coming. It is going to grow.”

McKenna said previous Democratic governors had opposed taxes on the campaign trail only to embrace them once in office, including the income tax.

Inslee went Dr. Seuss on McKenna.

“I was not for an income tax, I voted against the income tax initiative, I am not for the income tax and I will not be for the income tax. Let’s get rid of that red herring.”

The debate ended on a friendlier note. Moderator Brian Wood of Portland television station KATU asked the two candidates –- both University of Washington Huskies -- the following critical question.

“When the WSU Cougars play the University of Oregon Ducks who do you root for?

Rob McKenna (L) and Jay Inslee sparred in their second official debate Wednesday night at WSU's Vancouver campus. Image via KATU.
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Rob McKenna (L) and Jay Inslee sparred in their second official debate Wednesday night at WSU's Vancouver campus. Image via KATU.

“Cougs.”

“Cougs.”

In a brief moment of solidarity, McKenna put his hand on Inslee’s back.

On the Web:

Washington Gubernatorial Debate - part 1:

http://www.katu.com/politics/video/Wash-gubernatorial-debate---Part-1-Jay-Inslee-Rob-McKenna-167943585.html

Part 2:

http://www.katu.com/politics/video/Wash-gubernatorial-debate---Part-2-Jay-Inslee-Rob-McKenna-167944045.html

Candidates questions each other:

http://www.katu.com/politics/video/Wash-gubernatorial-debate---Candidates-question-each-other-167944685.html

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.