'Do the right thing': 2 other Bob Fergusons drop out of WA governor race, AG threatened criminal charges

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is running for governor, on Monday described an orchestrated attempt to deceive voters and influence the election illegally.

Joined by former King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg and legislator Noel Frame, Ferguson outlined the situation where two individuals named Robert Ferguson filed for governor under the name "Bob Ferguson" just hours before the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday, May 10.

"This is not an attack on me. It's an attack on our election system. It's an attack on our democracy," Ferguson said. "It's an attack on the people, the state of Washington, to have a clear choice and to know who they're voting for."

The individuals, identified as Robert Arthur Ferguson from Yakima, Washington and Robert Benjamin Ferguson from Graham, Washington, both filed as Democrats and are reportedly linked to right-wing Republican Glen Morgan. Ferguson emphasized that one of the individuals had previously voted in Republican primaries.

Ferguson's campaign has taken steps to address the situation, including delivering cease and desist letters to the individuals urging them to withdraw by the deadline. They have also sent a letter to the Secretary of State requesting specific measures to minimize confusion on the ballot if the individuals do not withdraw.

As of 6 p.m., both Bob Ferguson's had withdrawn from the race. 

A statement on neighborsforbobfergusonpac.com said: 

"After my candidacy was announced, I was faced with harassment and legal action if I did not withdraw from the race. I was publicly labeled a "threat to democracy" by another candidate and his supporters. In a typical hypocritical fashion, this other candidate’s actions are the true threat to democracy. I believe this shows that the other candidate fears he has not effectively done enough to stand out, or that he thinks voters are not competent enough to think for themselves. The threats made to my family and I, along with the shady tactics used to deliver messages, do not frighten or intimidate me. It is unfair to my family, friends, and supporters to deal with bullish behavior by someone that is too afraid to stand toe-to-toe with me.

"For that reason, I rescind my candidacy."

During the press conference, Ferguson criticized the lack of response from his opponent, Dave Reichert, stating, "If you can't have the decency and the most basic sense of fair play, to utter the words ‘this is unacceptable,’ and to call upon the Republican Party and these individuals to withdraw. It speaks volumes about him, and reveals he lacks the political courage to be the governor of the state."

Ferguson, who grew up in a Republican household, expressed disappointment in the current state of the Republican Party's response to the situation.

Reichert said in a statement to FOX 13 Seattle that he does not support any effort to deceive voters: "In all nine of my previous campaigns, I have won without any games or antics such as these. I don't support any effort to deceive the voters of Washington state."

FOX 13 reached to the other Bob Ferguson for comment.

In a statement, the WA Secretary of State said: 

Two of the three people who filed to run for governor under the name Bob Ferguson withdrew from the race before Monday’s deadline. Bob Ferguson, who is currently serving as the state’s attorney general, will remain on the ballot in position 11 of a field of 28 candidates.

Under Washington’s top-two primary system, each voter will get to choose from among the complete field on the ballot. Irrespective of political party, the two candidates with the largest vote totals for each position will appear on the November 5 General Election ballot.

Complete lists of filed and withdrawn candidates can be found through the website of the Office of the Secretary of State. As required by RCW 29A.36.010, candidate lists will be provided to county elections offices Tuesday, May 14. Ballot positions were assigned by random draw May 10, as required by RCW 29A.36.131.

The potential presence of multiple candidates with the same name on the ballot had required the Office of Secretary of State to follow procedures authorized by Washington Administrative Code 434-215-060 to mitigate voter confusion.

"Instances of people filing for office with names similar to well-known officeholders go back nearly a century in Washington and other states," Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said. "That is nothing new. We know how to address such issues as elections officials."

RCW 29A.84.320 makes it a felony to declare as a candidate for public office under the name of a fictitious person, a false name, or in using the name of an incumbent or candidate who has already filed "with intent to confuse and mislead" the voting public.

"Voters deserve good-faith candidates who are running on the strength of their ideas to make Washington a better place to live and work, not people who pay a filing fee just to manipulate elections," Hobbs said. "Washington’s long history of free and fair elections must be protected and preserved in every year and campaign cycle."

This is a developing story; check back for updates.


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