A second Democrat enters race for state attorney general

Nick Brown, ex-U.S. attorney and former counsel to Gov. Inslee, launched his campaign on Wednesday. He joins state Sen. Manka Dhingra in the 2024 contest.

By: - July 12, 2023 6:00 am

Former U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced his campaign for state attorney general on Wednesday, becoming the second high-profile Democratic candidate in the race.

Vowing to focus on “keeping Washington families safe,” he said he’ll work to advance “smart” gun policies, protect access to housing free of discrimination and preserve a healthy environment.

Brown resigned as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington on June 21, sparking anticipation that he would enter the race. It’s the 46-year-old Seattle resident’s first run for public office.

“To be engaged and to be part of the solution is really important to me,” he said. “My parents taught me the importance of doing what is right, not what is easy. That meant caring about our neighbors and community, and giving a damn about what really matters in life.”

If successful, he’ll be the first Black person to hold the office or any other elected statewide executive position outside the state Supreme Court.

“I think it’s not unremarkable that we’ve never had a Black official in a statewide executive office,” he said. “I’m eager to be the first attorney general and that will set the foundation for generations to come.”

He joins Democratic state Sen. Manka Dhingra of Redmond as the only announced candidates in next year’s contest to succeed Attorney General Bob Ferguson who is running for governor.

State Sen. Manka Dhingra speaks as the Washington state Senate convenes for floor session on Feb. 28, 2023. Dhingra entered the race for attorney general in May.(Washington State Legislative Support Services)

Dhingra, a former senior deputy prosecuting attorney for King County, launched her bid in May. Thus far she’s raised $235,000 and collected endorsements from numerous legislative colleagues and local elected officials.

Brown’s decision to run means Solicitor General Noah Purcell won’t. Purcell, a Democrat, had been eyeing the race but said in May he would back Brown, a friend, if he ran.

Prior to his appointment to the federal post in October 2021, Brown was a partner at Pacifica Law Group. He said he’s returned to the law group and working part-time.

Brown, who grew up in Steilacoom in Pierce County, is an Army veteran like his parents. His father is a retired colonel and his mom a nurse.


He served as assistant U.S. attorney in Western Washington from 2007-13 and as general counsel to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee from 2013-17. 

In his tenure with Inslee, Brown helped formulate the administration’s opposition to the ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries imposed by then-President Donald Trump. He also oversaw work that led to Inslee issuing a moratorium in 2014 on use of the death penalty.

In his 20s, Brown enjoyed a brief brush with celebrity. While attending Harvard Law School, he was a contestant on the second season of “Survivor,” a reality television competition show. He got voted out on Day 30, according to a fan website.

As of Wednesday morning, no Republican had registered a campaign committee with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

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Jerry Cornfield
Jerry Cornfield

Jerry Cornfield joined the Standard after 20 years covering Olympia statehouse news for The Everett Herald. Earlier in his career, he worked for daily and weekly papers in Santa Barbara, California.