May 9, 2015

SENATE: GOP Searches for Patty Murray Challenger.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee might be Sen. Patty Murray’s best friend in 2016.

A Republican operative confirmed to CQ Roll Call the party is looking to target Murray this cycle, but with many of the state’s most eligible Republicans expressing more interest in challenging the Democratic governor, a formidable candidate remains elusive.

The man who could be the GOP’s top recruit is, publicly at least, noncommittal. Rep. Dave Reichert, a six-term congressman who’s flirted with statewide office before, told CQ Roll Call in a statement Monday, “My entire career I have always kept my options open. I have considered every possibility that has been put in front of me.”

Reichert isn’t ruling out a Senate bid, but he’s more often mentioned as a gubernatorial contender. He could just as well decide to stay put in Washington’s 8th District, which, thanks to redistricting, is now safer turf for a Republican. But just in case, Reichert’s aides confirmed last year to the Seattle Times that he has owned and since at least 2011.

As for other top recruits from the congressional delegation, few Washington State sources expect Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to risk her position as House Republican Conference chairwoman in a competitive race against the four-term senator.

Other Republican names in the mix include state Sen. Steve Litzow, state Sen. Andy Hill and Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant. But all three have been more vocal about their interest in the gubernatorial race.

Whoever runs against her better keep a close eye on the vote-counting. . . .

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