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Conservative ties muddy McKenna's moderate appeal

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Before casting himself as a moderate in the campaign for governor, Rob McKenna met last year with members of a conservative group that has been targeted by activists as being too extreme.
The invitation-only dinner allowed McKenna to speak with a small gathering of corporate and political leaders, and he focused his remarks on efforts to combat President Barack Obama’s health care law. After the event at an Olympia restaurant, the Republican sent a note to an organizer for the American Legislative Exchange Council. “Thanks again for the opportunity,” McKenna wrote to Dann Smith, according to records obtained by The Associated Press under public records laws. “Congratulations on the success you’re seeing with ALEC in Washington.”
Over the past decade, McKenna has portrayed himself as a centrist fit to lead this Democratic-leaning state. At the same time, he has worked closely with conservatives who might give some independents pause: He raised money for President George W. Bush, touted his work for ALEC members and has attended tea party events to talk about the Constitution.
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