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March 24, 2011 at 10:35 AM

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McKenna says he's no Scott Walker, but maybe Butch Otter?

Posted by Jim Brunner

Notwithstanding recent Democratic Party attacks, Attorney General Rob McKenna says he's no fan of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's controversial assault on public-employee unions.

Democrats took out an ad in The Olympian newspaper this week with the headline "If you like what Governor Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin... you will love Rob McKenna as Washington State's Governor."

But in an interview before the King County GOP's Lincoln Day dinner in Bellevue Wednesday night, McKenna said he would not replicate Walker's attempt to undo collective bargaining rights.

"Collective bargaining is a right. It's not the problem. The problem is politicians who give away too much at the bargaining table," McKenna said.

If he does get elected governor, McKenna said he'd work with unions, rather than "terrorizing them."

During a speech to the Republican gathering, McKenna had kind words for another Republican Governor -- Idaho's C.L. "Butch" Otter, who was the night's keynote speaker at the Bellevue Hilton.

McKenna joked that security should pat down Otter before he left. "I'm afraid he might leave the state with some of our jobs," he said.

Otter has publicly tried to lure businesses from Washington state, writing a "love letter" to them last year saying Idaho would love to have any firms turned off by tax increases the Legislature was considering at the time.

McKenna noted that Idaho landed a major uranium enrichment plant which had considered locating in the Tri-Cities. (The Tri-City Herald published an investigation in 2008 which laid the blame on Gov. Chris Gregoire for failing to personally recruit the Areva plant and its 400 jobs.)

McKenna called Idaho a "business nirvana" with low taxes and regulations, to the loud applause of the GOP faithful at the dinner.

But despite all the GOP talk about Idaho's alleged economic superiority, it's worth noting that Idaho's unemployment rate is higher (9.7 percent) than Washington's (9.1 percent).

McKenna's speech included no new glimpse into his 2012 plans.

He did offer a prediction on the health-care lawsuit headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Despite numerous legal experts who have said legal precedent should guide the court to uphold the law, McKenna seemed confident that a majority on the Supreme Court will strike it down.

"What are the odds?" McKenna said. "I would say they are about 5 to 4."

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.