CEO McGavick may challenge Cantwell

Republican Mike McGavick, the CEO of insurance giant Safeco, announced yesterday that he is forming an exploratory committee to challenge Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) in 2006.

McGavick will spend the rest of July and August traveling throughout the state meeting with voters, his political consultant Jim Keough said.

Keough, who formerly served as political director for Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.), said McGavick also has formed a finance committee to begin fundraising.

The Republican’s announcement came one day after he said he would resign from Safeco. The resignation takes effect Aug. 31.

A House Republican aide said GOP activists are still angry about Republican Dino Rossi’s narrow loss to Democrat Christine Gregoire, who was sworn in earlier this year. Rossi contested Gregoire’s victory in court but lost that case.

Cantwell, having raised nearly $1.7 million in the second quarter of the year, has more than $3 million in her campaign coffers. She was one of only a handful of challengers to beat a sitting senator, Gorton, in 2000.

Peter Savodnik