Politics & Government

Rumors intensify: Will state Sen. Andy Hill run for WA governor?

The state Capitol and political types have been a-whisper for some time that state Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, may be considering a 2016 run for governor.

Hill hasn't said he plans to seek statewide office. But an email that may or may not be authentic shows either A) that he is thinking about running, or B) that some people out there want us to think he's thinking about running.

In any case, here's the latest addition to the Is-Andy-Hill-Running-For-Governor-Rumor-Mill: An apparent email from former Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed to other Republicans, talking about Hill giving “very serious consideration” to running for governor.

It also says that “some of the key Republican leaders around the state and the large donors want Andy to be the candidate.”

Reed said he couldn’t confirm the authenticity of the email when contacted by phone Thursday, nor did he explicitly say he didn’t send it. (He sort of hung up on me with a quick ‘goodbye,’ after saying I caught him the middle of a meeting.)

Yet another reliable source assures me this email is legitimate. It was apparently sent Feb. 25.

Hill, the budget writer in the Republican-controlled state Senate, has made me wonder about his gubernatorial ambitions twice during one-on-one interviews this year.

In both instances, when discussing how Hill believes there are many places to find savings in the state budget, Hill mentioned he is “just trying to help the governor keep his campaign promises” of implementing lean management practices, which businesses such as Boeing have employed to save money.

During his 2012 campaign, soon-to-be Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee touted the potential for statewide savings by applying those efficiency measures to state government.

“We’re just trying to help the governor keep his campaign promises: No new taxes, solve all the problems with lean,” Hill said.

The second time Hill said something like this, I asked him if he’s thinking about running for governor in 2016.

Hill said right now he is focused on crafting a new two-year budget – which this year means complying with a court-order to boost education funding and figuring out how to pay for (or suspend) a costly class-size initiative voters approved last fall.

Hill didn’t say he wouldn’t run for governor, but he didn’t say he would, either.

“I just got reelected three months ago, and I have a big job to do right here,” Hill said in February. “I will say, I’m not happy with the leadership.”

Welcome to the rumor mill, otherwise known as the state Capitol in Olympia.

In case you are interested in the full text of the email that Reed allegedly sent to a group of other Republicans discussing Hill’s potential candidacy, I’ve pasted it below.

"Hi,

I’m sending this email to a very select group of my fellow mainstream Republicans. You’ll see why.

I had breakfast this morning with State Senator Andy Hill. I wanted to find out if there is a real possibility of him running for governor.

I came away from our breakfast believing that there is a real possibility.

Andy is talking with some key people. He is doing a few talks on the Lincoln Day circuit. He is giving it very serious consideration. He had excellent, substantive questions for me – about running for statewide office.

Since Andy chairs the Senate Ways & Means Committee, he has to avoid sending the Democrats any indication of this……which is why this email is confidential.

I have found it interesting that some of the key Republican leaders around the state and the large donors want Andy to be the candidate.

It’ll probably be summer before he will announce one way or another.

In the meantime, I’m going to “keep my powder dry.” You may want to do the same.

For you who don’t know Andy, I’ll put his bio underneath this email.

– Sam"

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