On February 27, 2024, Attorney General Bob Ferguson visited Alcon Media, LLC in Kennewick, Washington. There, he spoke with various media outlets including Tumbleweird, Estrella TV, Telemundo, and all the local Alcon Media radio stations, as well as with leaders in the local Hispanic/Latinx communities. We sat down near the end of the day in the office of Ulises Navarro — the COO of Alcon Media and the Editor of El Vuelo Informativo — for a casual conversation.

I’m Sara Quinn with Tumbleweird, and I'm here with Bob Ferguson, who is the Attorney General for the state of Washington, and has been for about a decade. 

Sara Quinn, Tumbleweird: I first became aware of you because my spouse and I are friends of Curt and Rob, who you fought for in the Arlene’s Flowers case a long time ago. So you, in our eyes, were a champion for queer rights — for equitable rights. 

And, I’ve been known to say APAB… I do have that kind of vibe. But some people break the mold a little bit. 

BF: Thank you. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Say hello for me.

SQ: Okay. Will do! So, right now, you're running for governor. That's great. And I know you've already answered a lot of questions today, so I will try not to repeat too much. But one thing I want to ask you is this: Why do you think it is that you have so many fans here, so many supporters here, when one of your opponents is from here?

BF: That's a good question. It's a little hard for me to answer that. But what I would say is that in my time as Attorney General, which has now been 11 plus years, I have tried hard to travel throughout the entire state, and to listen to folks in every community and try to do what I could as attorney general to help them with the concerns they have. 

And so, certainly here in the Tri-Cities, we're … spending [time] with the Latino/Hispanic community working on multiple issues. Obviously, we've been involved on some high-profile issues that impact that community, in particular — farmworkers, for example. And Dreamers. Those are huge cases we've had, that we've had tremendous success on. And so I think that there might be a sense within the community that, ‘Hey, this attorney general over there on the west side has come over to our side of the state. He's listened. He's taken on cases that affect us, that past attorneys general haven't taken on’ — on behalf of farmworkers, for example. And that those haven’t just been cases we've done; but we've gone all in on those cases; we've really pushed on those cases, and had a lot of success. So, I think it's that some trust builds up over time with that.

SQ: I think that when you do take it as far as you have, people stop thinking it's for appearances. 

BF: Right, right. Yeah. 

SQ: So you have also done a lot to help Hanford workers, which is something that obviously, locally, is a huge issue — health and safety at Hanford.

BF: Yeah. You know, I've sort of become known for taking on Donald Trump in court, but the first president I ever filed a lawsuit against was not Donald Trump; it was Barack Obama — someone from my political party. And the issue was, to your point, worker safety at Hanford. And that issue had been going on for many, many years. Decades, really. 

I was invited, after I became Attorney General, over to the Tri-Cities to meet with Hanford workers, and I made a number of trips, met dozens of workers, and really came to the conclusion that the only way to solve that problem would be litigation — that another study wasn't going to do it. The federal government was not going to change on its own. And so we worked with the union and the members to file that lawsuit. And we won. I was proud of that. 

The first organization to endorse me when I decided to run for governor was Hanford workers. And that's the kind of campaign I want to run. I recognize in this part of the state, a Democrat like me gets 30% of the vote. But I appreciate that the Hanford workers want to support me, even though, hey, their politics might be different than mine in a certain way. But they know I was there for them when they needed it.

SQ: That's the thing. You aren't Seattle-centric, or, you know, west side-centric. And I think that that means a lot to people that live here on the east side. 

BF: Yeah, you need to show up. I mean, that's just really been my philosophy. You need to show up.

SQ: And the fact that you will go against your own party, if you are representing the people and what they want. 

BF: I’ve had a long road… I mean, when I first ran for office, I ran against a 20-year incumbent who was a Democrat, for a county council position, which is not the easy way into politics, right? My opponent had all the support of Democratic organizations and elected officials. But we ran a grassroots campaign. I knocked on 22,000 doors, and I learned that that was more powerful — talking to voters — then money or endorsements. So it taught me a really valuable lesson. And look, I'm a proud Democrat. But there are times I do things that take on my own party, or even my own president, if I feel it's the right thing. And I think that's important — that the people of the state know that you represent the people.

SQ: You represent the people above the party. 

BF: Exactly. 

SQ: Yeah, that makes sense. You've also done work for women's health, which is something that I appreciate, personally — and also, generally. Do you want to speak on that a little bit? 

BF: Well, there's a lot there … I mean, look, you know, we have to start that conversation with acknowledging that our United States Supreme Court, for the first time in its history, took away a constitutional right — from, in this case, millions of American women. And they didn't do that because there was some change in the law — no, there was not. They didn't do that because there was some change in the facts around reproductive freedom — there has not been. The only change was the makeup of the United States Supreme Court. That's something that changed. And that is not okay

And so, we now understand that even in a state like Washington, where reproductive freedom has been codified by the people in the legislature, these attacks can still impact Washingtonians. And that's why when this huge case came up with Mifepristone — that's the medication used by the majority of Washington women if they want to choose to end their pregnancy — when a federal judge in Texas was going to ban that drug nationwide, we took action. We filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Washington … more than a dozen states joined us, and we won that case to ensure access to it. So that is important to me. And I've been proud that our office hasn't just ‘been involved’ in those issues, but really has led a national effort to ensure those freedoms. 

SQ: Yeah. It's good to be in a so-called ‘safe state’, but it's only so safe.

BF: Right, it’s only so safe. And you know, that was a case against the Biden administration — again, a president of my own party; and, you know, it doesn't matter to me who occupies the White House. If whoever's there is impacting the rights of Washingtonians, workers, women, I need to step up and do something about it.

SQ: That's really good to hear. I really appreciate that. 

BF: Thanks. Thank you so much.

SQ: So is there anything else that you would like people to know about you, or somewhere people can go to find out more?

BF: We have a website, bobferguson.com

The other thing I'll say is that we expect a close election. You know, our campaign is going very well. But we expect it to be close. So every vote does matter. I'd remind people that when Chris Gregoire got elected governor about 20 years ago, she won by 133 votes. 133 votes. So, you do the math, right? I mean, every vote actually does matter. 

And the last thing I'd want them to know is that I'm the only candidate running for governor who does not accept money from large corporations or corporate PACs. I'm the only candidate that has a people-powered campaign. We have nearly 50,000 Washingtonians that have donated to my campaign. That's more than all the other candidates combined. 

I really believe in grassroots politics, and going directly to the people, and centering the people in the work that I do. And that's not going to change if I get elected governor.

SQ: Wonderful. Wonderful. 

It’s also worth mentioning that Jay Inslee endorsed you, which is awesome. 

BF: Exactly. Right. That helps, too. 

SQ: Well, thank you so much!

BF: Awesome. Thanks for the interview. Yeah, really appreciate it. It’s great to see you. Can I keep my own copy of Tumbleweird? I love it. It's great.

SQ: Of course! And this is the first issue with El Vuelo Informativo inside. We've partnered with Alcon Media, here. 

BF: Oh, really? Oh, cool! I'm looking forward to checking it out. 

I want to share one more thing with you all. We chatted a little bit after the interview, and Bob commented that he loved seeing the chess board in Ulises’ office. Bob Ferguson, if you don’t know, is an internationally rated chess master! It also happens that in the past year, Ulises’ daughter has become very invested in the game, even going so far as to start a chess club at her middle school. So Ulises explained that it was his daughter’s board, and asked if Bob would sign it, which, of course, he was delighted to do :) 

Sara Quinn is the Editor in Chief at Tumbleweird and serves on the board of Tri-City Area Gaming. She lives with her amazing spouse (Brendan), and her doggos (Jewel and Ruby). Sara makes art, writes stuff, reads A TON, and plays a lot of video games. 💜

Photos by Scott Butner