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Will the real Bob Ferguson please stand up? Name doppelgangers rattle Washington governor’s race

caption: Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson addressed the multi-Bob controversy at a news conference on May 13, 2024, where he called on the other Ferguson candidates for governor to withdraw, and suggested the situation could prompt legal consequences.
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Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson addressed the multi-Bob controversy at a news conference on May 13, 2024, where he called on the other Ferguson candidates for governor to withdraw, and suggested the situation could prompt legal consequences.
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The governor’s race in Washington is back to “Bob-ness” as usual, after two candidates named Bob Ferguson withdrew their names from consideration Monday. The Fergusons who withdrew were under pressure from Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who called their candidacies for governor a “scheme” to disenfranchise voters.

Attorney General Ferguson, the Democratic frontrunner in the race, says the two other Bob Fergusons were recruited to split votes from his supporters and stifle his chances in the August primary. And this, he alleges, is a violation of state law.

The two additional Bob Fergusons had filed to run for governor last week, which would have meant three candidates with the same name and party affiliation on voters’ primary ballots

The Attorney General said Monday that his campaign team had sent a cease-and-desist letter to each of the other two Bob Fergusons over the weekend.

“Look, it’s clear what’s going on – anti-Democracy Republicans orchestrated a deceptive and illegal scheme to deceive voters and illegally influence the election,” Ferguson told reporters Monday morning.

A former state lawmaker from Florida faced criminal charges for coordinating a similar effort there in the 2020 election.

It turns out that Glen Morgan, a conservative writer and activist, is behind the Washington controversy. Morgan helped kickstart a recent ballot initiative effort in the state that sought to undo several policies enacted by legislative Democrats. Morgan also received the “volunteer of the year” award from the state Republican Party in 2023.

Morgan told The Seattle Times he attempted to get even more Bob Fergusons on the ballot. The deadline for candidates to file paperwork to get on the primary ballot in Washington was on Friday.

At a news conference Monday morning, Attorney General Ferguson called on the two other Fergusons to withdraw their names from consideration or potentially face legal action.

A state law says candidates who file for an office under the same name as someone with a “widely known” political reputation are liable for a class B felony if they did so with the intent to mislead voters.

The Attorney General said he would not press for any legal repercussions against the other Bob Fergusons if they decided to withdraw from the race.

"What I know is that two cease-and-desist letters were left on their front porch," Attorney General Ferguson said. "Whether they opened those, read those, I don't know the answer to that."

Washington State Republican Party Chair Jim Walsh said that the GOP was not involved in any way, but that the situation is an “indictment” of the state’s open primary system, where any number of candidates from any party can appear on the ballot together.

Dave Reichert, the leading Republican in the governor’s race, said in a statement that he doesn’t support “any effort to deceive the voters of Washington state."

Who are the other Bobs?

Publicly available details about the other two Bob Fergusons are limited.

The Secretary of State’s office confirmed that the two additional Bob Fergusons are registered voters in the state, and the nearly $2,000 fee to file for governor was paid. Both of their candidacies were registered at the same UPS store in Olympia.

The two additional Ferguson campaigns listed two different phone numbers and websites and listed them as Democrats. Calls to the numbers provided for both candidates went unanswered Monday morning.

The Attorney General laid out more details about the additional Bob Fergusons at Monday’s press conference: The candidate Robert Arthur Ferguson is from Yakima and recently voted in the presidential primary as a Republican; the other, Robert Benjamin Ferguson, is an Army veteran from Graham.

What happens now?

Just after 1p.m. Monday, Robert Benjamin Ferguson released a statement announcing his withdrawal from the race “under duress.”

“The threats made to my family and I, along with the shady tactics used to deliver messages, do not frighten or intimidate me,” he wrote. “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.”

Meanwhile, Robert Arthur Ferguson withdrew his name from consideration just minutes before Monday’s 5 p.m. withdrawal deadline. In a statement, he wrote that Monday was “perhaps the second worst day of [his] life,” and that it was his dream to run for governor. He wrote that the worst day of his life was 38 years ago when his wife died.

“My dream has been destroyed by a man who doesn’t know me, but with whom I had the misfortune of sharing the same name,” the statement said.

Both of the other Bob Fergusons’ withdrawals means only one Bob Ferguson will appear on the ballot for the Aug. 6 primary.

UPDATE - 5/13/24, 5:35 p.m.: This story has been updated with new information throughout.

[Copyright 2024 Northwest News Network]

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