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Bob Ferguson
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson at the GeekWire Summit at Sheraton Seattle on Tuesday. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed 19 lawsuits against the administration of Donald Trump since the president took office. When asked at the GeekWire Summit on Tuesday whether he had an ax to grind with Trump, Ferguson drew cheers from the Seattle audience he was addressing.

“I plead guilty,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson, who successfully challenged the administration’s first travel ban on immigrants, isn’t shy about his competitive nature or the fact that it has produced results.

Ferguson said he was surprised when Trump actually won the election and became president. And he promised himself that he wouldn’t underestimate Trump again.

So he and his team prepared themselves to react legally if the administration did things that were unconstitutional.

“I’m one of seven kids. Six boys and one long-suffering sister,” Ferguson said of his upbringing. “We played a lot of sports … I’m very very competitive. I cannot stand losing. I really can’t stand it. … I think it’s important to be competitive, a lot’s at stake.”

Boasting that he’s 4-0 against Trump so far — “they got their butts kicked, they did, they lost” — Ferguson also managed to get the administration to pay the legal bill back to Washington state for challenging that first travel ban.

“I won’t confirm or deny whether that check is framed in my office,” Ferguson said to laughs.

But the legal battle he is waging is no laughing matter. People’s lives — and in many cases their livelihoods — are at stake. Ferguson was able to enlist the help of tech giants such as Amazon and Expedia, who filed declarations of support for the initial travel ban lawsuit, to help convey the adverse effect of the ban on Washington businesses and the tech community in particular.

“This is just my personal view — I think this is a dark time for our country,” Ferguson said. “It is a pivotal time for our country. … It’s just not a time to be on the sidelines.”

Ferguson, who was first elected attorney general in 2012, and again in 2016, has been floated as a potential candidate for Washington governor in 2020.

After making mention of his wife’s appreciation for privacy (she’s not on Facebook!) and the joy he gets out of being home for his kids, Ferguson said he remembers telling people that he considers attorney general the most consequential office in politics.

“Nobody gives me a funny look when I say that anymore,” he said.

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