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State schools chief Randy Dorn close to a third-party run for governor

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OLYMPIA, Wash. -- As the  Legislature approaches Thursday's deadline for a new budget, state Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn is speaking out about his frustration -- and about his possible bombshell next move.

Dorn now says he is likely to mount third-party run for governor, setting up an epic battle with incumbent Jay Inslee and the leading GOP candidate, Bill Bryant.

“People go, 'Well, how could you be a third party candidate?'” Dorn said.  “For the last two elections I’ve run as an independent in my mind.”

Dorn, a Democrat, has served in the nonpartisan position of state schools chief since 2009.

Dorn argues that Inslee still hasn’t offered a full answer to the state Supreme Court’s mandate to fund schools -- a mandate that is costing $100,000 a day in fines.

“He should have come up with his own plan,” Dorn said of the Inslee.  “He’s been under contempt just like the Legislature.”

Dorn says state needs to generate at least $4 billion a year to fulfil its duty, and that he’s the only one willing to argue for a sizable tax increase to get there.

“If you don’t have a plan and a way of paying for it, you shouldn’t be a candidate for governor,” Dorn said.  “Show me the vision for education, and I’m out,” Dorn said of Inslee and Bryant.  “But if you can’t show me, I’m in.”

Dorn argues that the state needs a governor who lives and breathes the problem, something he has yet to see with Inslee.

"He’s got it in his gut for the environment, for global warming and stuff like that," Dorn said.  The school funding challenge is “going to be Governor Inslee’s albatross, or it’s going to be his crowning moment,” Dorn said.  “Right now it seems to be shading toward the albatross.”

Though Inslee has yet to produce a comprehensive plan to fully fund the Supreme Court's McCleary decision, Inslee has offered several revenue proposals, including closing tax loopholes and implementing a capital gains tax.

Dorn has until mid-June to make a final decision about an independent bid for governor.