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Can Republicans increase their ranks of governors? Four races to watch.

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Rob McKenna (l.) and Jay Inslee, candidates for Governor of Washington State, debate at the Washington State University of Vancouver campus on Aug. 29.
Steven Lane/The Columbian/AP
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3. Washington

Democrats have held the governor’s seat in Washington for the past 28 years, but Republicans are investing a lot of money in Attorney General Rob McKenna to try to break that streak.

The son of an Army soldier and a teacher, Mr. McKenna attended both school and college in the state. His goals are reforming public education and supporting small businesses.

In his 2008 reelection as attorney general, he won just over 59 percent of the vote, historic for Republican candidates in the state. And 10 newspapers in the state have endorsed him in his bid for governor.

His opponent is Democrat Jay Inslee, a fifth-generation Washingtonian whose jobs have ranged from driving cement trucks to teaching at a community college. He served in the other Washington as a congressman from 1998-2012. The author of a book on clean energy and jobs, he says he can help put Washington in the forefront of the clean-energy jobs revolution.

As of mid-October, the race was a virtual tie, with Jay Inslee’s 2-point lead within the Rasmussen poll’s margin of error.

McKenna has raised more than $12 million, including a recent influx of $1.5 million from the state Republican Party. Inslee has raised $10.5 million, including more than $1 million from his party.

In their fifth debate, they sparred over how best to fund education without raising taxes, which both said they will do. McKenna said he would cap noneducation spending growth and shift revenue to education. Inslee said he would contain health costs and create more revenue through job growth.

One of the lighter moments of the campaign came when McKenna proved he was no couch potato by dancing “Gangnam Style” (another dance gone viral) on Korean Day at a celebration of the Washington State Korean Association. (In this video, he’s the guy in the red tie to the left of the more-practiced young women.)

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