Early Poll In Washington State’s Governor’s Race: Ferguson Leads


Attorney General Bob Ferguson has an early lead in Washington’s unfolding 2024 gubernatorial race, but an early poll shows one third of the state’s voters undecided about who they will choose to succeed three-term Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.

The high-profile Ferguson garners 25 percent, running far ahead of his announced Democratic foes, State Land Commissioner Hilary Franz at 9 percent and a newly announced candidate, three-term State Sen. Mark Mullet, trails at 7 percent. 

Among Republicans, a latecomer to the 2020 primary election – Yakima physician Raul Garcia – is ahead with 17 percent, while Richland School Board member Semi Bird trails at 7 percent. A Republican leader in one previous poll, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, has taken himself out of the race.

The survey of 773 Washington voters was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute.  PPS has Democratic roots, but unlike other pollsters it was spot on in forecasting the comfortable reelection margin of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., in last year’s expensive U.S. Senate race.  Northwest Progressive Institute is best known for its dogged challenging of initiative promoter Tim Eyman.

“They (PPP) have never been wrong that I can think of,” said Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of Northwest Progressive Institute.  The polling firm has worked for his organization for a decade. An institute-sponsored poll last year was first to show Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp-Perez within striking distance of MAGA Republican Joe Kent in Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. MGP scored a surprising upset win in last year’s election.

The latest poll touched every corner of the Evergreen state: 20 percent of those surveyed live in Eastern Washington, 14 percent on the Olympic Peninsula and Southwest Washington, 18 percent apiece in South Puget Sound and North Puget Sound counties, with 31 percent in populous (and heavily Democratic) King County. The survey was taken Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

A poll is a snapshot in time, and voters have until August of next year to sample the candidates and make up their minds. The Northwest states of Washington and Oregon have the longest Democratic party winning streaks in America. This state has not elected a Republican governor since John Spellman’s 1980 win. Five Democrats, from Booth Gardner to Jay Inslee, have occupied the governor’s mansion. The last Republican governor in Oregon, Vic Atiyeh, was elected in 1982.

If Washington politics had a mantra, it would be: “Nobody outworks Bob Ferguson.” He ousted two incumbent members of the King County Council and beat Councilman Reagan Dunn for AG in 2012. He gained national fame with a series of successful lawsuits against the Trump Administration, starting with a challenge to the first Muslim travel ban.

Ferguson has been a leader in AGs’ lawsuits against firms manufacturing and distributing the addictive painkiller Oxycontin.  He has sued Monsanto over PCBs in state waterways and won a big lawsuit against the (since renamed) Grocery Manufacturers Assn. for money laundering in a state initiative campaign. He is a longtime champion of the ban on purchase of assault weapons recently enacted by the Legislature.

Two other AGs who took on Trump in court, Massachusetts’ Maura Healey and Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro, were elected governors of their states last November. Ferguson has lately filled ballrooms in Seattle and Tacoma for show-of-strength fundraisers.

Hilary Franz is the state’s chief firefighter. She has sought additional firefighting resources, warning that climate change has lengthened the fire season, added to the intensity of forest and wildland fires, and brought fire danger to the “wet” side of the mountains.  She has also banned net-pen fish farming in state waters.

Mullet, from Issaquah, is a moderate Democrat, a species whose numbers in the Washington Legislature are much diminished from years past. He barely beat a fellow Democrat in 2020, with Gov. Inslee paying a visit to his East King County district to campaign against him. He has irked the Democratic left by voting against the state’s new capital gains tax on high-income earners and opposing the payroll tax to pay for long-term health care. Such hard-left voices as The Stranger have greeted his candidacy with near-hysteria.

Garcia is medical director at Toppenish Hospital. Born in Cuba, he is a trauma specialist and emergency room physician.  While running in 2020 with backing from Republican luminaries – Dan Evans, Slade Gorton and Rob McKenna – he took only 5.4 percent of the vote. The primary winner was Republican, Washington, policeman Loren Culp, heralding from the party’s far right.

Bird is a Richland School Board member. He and two other school directors are facing a recall over a surprise, unannounced vote for schools in the Eastern Washington city to go “mask optional” and defy the state’s mask mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Democrats’ long statehouse winning streak, and victories in eight consecutive U.S. Senate contests. has been built on 400-500,000 vote victories in King County. Two pro-Republican pollsters, Trafalgar and Moore Information, showed Republican Tiffany Smiley within striking distance of Murray last year. “We want that seat,” Sean Hannity of Fox News said over the airwaves.

Murray won her sixth term by a double-digit margin. Republicans face stiff headwinds in Washington state.

Joel Connelly
Joel Connelly
I worked for Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1973 until it ceased print publication in 2009, and SeattlePI.com from 2009 to 6/30/2020. During that time, I wrote about 9 presidential races, 11 Canadian and British Columbia elections‎, four doomed WPPSS nuclear plants, six Washington wilderness battles, creation of two national Monuments (Hanford Reach and San Juan Islands), a 104 million acre Alaska Lands Act, plus the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.


  1. Nice review of early polling results Joel. One thing that strikes me is how we use the term “moderate democrat” in describing Mark Mullet. He seems to be more of a conservative Democrat as many of his positions are further from the middle of the Democratic Party as well as the majority of voters. As a legislator his position on key issues is unyielding to compromising with other legislators. Perhaps our use of the term moderate needs an update? It seems a bit dated and connected to a time when the state Republican Party was also “moderate” as in the 1960’s, 1970’s and early 1980’s. Times and party platforms have changed as have the values of the most of the voters.

  2. I like Bob Ferguson, butSenator Mark Mullett interests me, and probably a lot of other moderate Democrats.
    The fact that Inslee opposed his reelection is a huge plus. And The Stranger is apoplectic! I’m liking this!
    More important are his votes against “capital gains” and the “health care payroll tax.”
    I don’t know anything more about the man and his priorities but I am interested.

  3. Please people, please wake up and see Bob for the evil sociopath he is. He will terrorize the people of Washington out of spite.

    • Say what? “Evil sociopath”? Where did that come from? He’s been an excellent AG and if elected Governor I think he would do a great job.

      • Mr. Jim
        This site gets mentioned on some of the more kooky sites out there, perhaps explaining the “evil sociopath” post.
        Wish there were a better answer.

  4. Would really like to see Mark Mullet win this primary. Those of us tired of the 2 party extremists would really welcome his experience and plan.

  5. “Such hard-left voices as The Stranger have greeted his candidacy with near-hysteria.” Great line, but I didn’t quite believe it, so I went to the website for “Seattle’s only newspaper” and this was the headline:

    State Sen. Mark Mullet Is Running for Governor


  6. Thank you for being a journalist! They are supposed to be non biased and siding with one party or another. My opinion and all of my conservative friends and family are sick and tired of listening to one sided news! This country has been split with hatred for our values as God loving patriots who love our country! On the East side we used to be a love your neighbor as yourself and now with Biden and Enslees governing we have crime running rampant homeless everywhere, drugs drug
    Users on our streets and schools calling parents terrorists because they are standing up to no more indoctrination of
    Our children!!! We want morals work ethics and good values taught and followed in our communities! So who is that person? I vote for Culp but big money is squashing our vote to make Washington safer and more for middle class and small business voters!

  7. The last thing we need is a democratic government as they have shown nothing but failure for the people not like it used to be this is just insanity


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