Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna’s announcement that he will run for governor of the state could be met with mixed reaction in the burgeoning tech industry. The Republican candidate has made technology issues a cornerstone of his office and the Sammamish High School grad hasn’t shied away from interacting with members of the technology industry over the years. (I once sat on a startup judging panel with McKenna hosted by The Northwest Entrepreneur Network, so he’s no stranger to tech events).
McKenna wrote the state’s Anti-Spyware Act and enforced the first case in 2006.
Since then, he’s become one of the leading advocates of consumer protection on the Internet, bringing more anti-spyware cases than any other Attorney General. That certainly hasn’t won him many fans at local companies, including Bellevue-based Intelius which felt the wrath of McKenna’s office earlier this year.
At the Innovation Summit in Redmond last March, McKenna explained the modest beginnings of the cybercrime unit. And explained his philosophy on making the Internet a safer place for all people.
“We need as many Sheriffs as possible to help keep the peace and make (the Internet) a better experience for all consumers,” he said.
Beyond online privacy issues, McKenna found himself in the middle of controversy when he ruled that state tax breaks do not apply to data centers in rural areas. (That prompted some of the major technology giants, including Microsoft, to reevaluate its data center plans in the state).
He’s also joined with several other states to file lawsuits against makers Hitachi, Samsung, Toshiba and others, alleging that they fixed prices on LCD panels. And he’s also gone after computer maker Dell over rebate offers and DirecTV over unfair business practices.
In his announcement Wednesday, McKenna made efficient government, jobs and education his cornerstone issues, all of which are key to the state’s growing tech industry.
“…We need to control state costs and free up money for education and job creation by, frankly, having fewer state employees,” McKenna said, according to a report by Patch.com’s Venice Buhain.
Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire has not announced whether she will seek a third term, but The Seattle Times reports that she’s widely expected not to do so.