Put Reagan Dunn in the attorney general's office

The Washington state attorney general's job is up for grabs this year because the current AG, Rob McKenna, is pursuing a bid for governor.

McKenna's office has made a priority of protecting the consumers in our state and put an emphasis on crime and public safety. These are laudable goals and we would like to see the momentum continued.

But that isn't a deciding point for us in this race.

The candidates for attorney general are both good. We believe either the Democratic candidate Bob Ferguson or Republican Reagan Dunn would represent Washington's interests well.

But our recommendation goes to Dunn.

In some races, we see two candidates who are not only both well-qualified for the job but also share similar views. (In other races we've seen candidates who are similar, but neither one is qualified.)

In this case, the candidates offer a clear choice when it comes to their views -- but each is qualified in his own way -- and either one is electable.

They are similar in age. Both are attorneys. Both sit on the King County Council.

One big difference is where they've gained their experience.

Ferguson has more managerial experience, which we have to consider a plus because the attorney general runs an office of 1,200 employees with 500 attorneys.

But he has no prosecuting experience, a definite minus for someone seeking the state's top law enforcement post.

Dunn, on the other hand, has been a prosecutor, handled some high-profile cases and has some management experience.

Dunn also has some impressive endorsements, including Rob McKenna's. That also carries some weight with us.

This is a partisan position. We're not so sure there is any wisdom in that.

One thing that's vital in an attorney general is the ability to think and act independent of his party. Both of these candidates have demonstrated enough independence in their political lives to put that issue to rest, although neither one would be considered rebels.

This independent thinking could come into play almost immediately.

If Washington voters decide to legalize marijuana in November, one of the first legal battles the new attorney general would find himself embroiled in is how to reconcile state law with opposing federal law.

Both candidates have said they would represent the will of the state's voters -- if it comes to that -- even though neither man is in favor of legalizing marijuana.

But Dunn's experience should make him more effective in that role.

We also believe Dunn is better versed in Hanford cleanup issues.

That's an important factor for Mid-Columbia voters, who recognize the state may need to take the Department of Energy to court to keep cleanup on track.

We are on Dunn's top three priorities list.

The Tri-City Herald editorial board recommends Reagan Dunn for Washington State Attorney General.