Three Bob Fergusons now running for governor as race takes turn for the weird

Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks to a reporter as his 2024 gubernatorial campaign launch event gets underway in Seattle, on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. ( Jerry Cornfield/Washington State Standard)

The number of Bob Fergusons running to be Washington’s next governor grew to three on Friday.

A conservative Republican activist threw a monkey wrench into the race by recruiting two last-minute Democratic candidates who share the same name as the party’s presumed front-runner.

The newcomers, one from Yakima and the other Graham, will now share the Aug. 6 primary ballot with Attorney General Bob Ferguson. In all, 30 candidates filed in the race.

Glen Morgan, a political conservative who has a knack for annoying elected Democrats and their progressive allies, cooked up the maneuver that immediately drew flack from the attorney general’s camp as an attempt to confuse voters.

Morgan said this had been in the works for a while as he contacted some of the 53 Washington residents named Bob Ferguson.

“Not every one of them wants their name associated with the guy running for governor,” he said. Deciding to file on their behalf “was pretty impulsive” and he said he had to scramble to raise money to cover the filing fee of $1,982.57 for each of the two Fergusons.

Morgan provided few details about the individuals. Bob Ferguson from Yakima is a retired state worker and the one from Graham is a military veteran, he said. Neither is politically experienced but both share a distaste for the state executive with the same name, Morgan said.

Ferguson, the attorney general, declined Friday to comment.

Former governor Christine Gregoire issued a statement on behalf of his campaign calling the last-minute filing a “highly deceiving and potentially illegal” effort to mislead voters.

“It’s nothing less than an attack on our democracy,” said Gregoire, a former attorney general who served as governor from 2005-2013.

Morgan countered that the only dishonesty is on the part of Ferguson for campaigning as one who will bolster public safety “when everything he’s done in office makes people less safe.”

The next important move is in the hands of Secretary of State Steve Hobbs.

Typically, in races for partisan offices, ballots contain only candidates’ names and their preferred party.

Under state law, if two or more candidates file for the same office with names similar enough to confuse voters, information can be added on the ballot to help differentiate them. Additional information will not be provided for any other candidate.

Hobbs must decide what extra wording to add. Occupation is one example he is considering. A decision is expected late Monday, after the deadline for candidates to withdraw.Meanwhile, state election officials set the ballot order Friday through the random drawing of numbers. The late-arriving Bob Fergusons will be the second and third listed on the ballot. The attorney general landed 13th.

— By Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and Twitter.

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