Indeed, at a news conference Wednesday morning, the Democrat was already sounding very gubernatorial, even announcing plans for his administration.
“We are starting today the process of organizing a transition organization for the governor’s office of the state of Washington,” he said.
Inslee even made clear the kind of people who will serve on his transition team. He said he wants those from outside of Olympia who have a background in business and job creation, a priority of his campaign.
McKenna didn’t make a public comment Wednesday. But at his Election Night rally, he made it clear why he thinks the remaining ballots will move in his direction.
“I had a big lead among later voters, including a substantial number of late-deciding Democratic voters,” he said. “When those ballots are tabulated, we believe we will be in the lead and we’ll be in the lead for good.”
"Wait a little longer," McKenna told his supporters late Tuesday night. "This year it will be worth the wait."
Washington has not elected a Republican governor since John Spellman won the seat in 1980. Current Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire announced she would not seek a third term, opening the way for Inslee and other Democrats to vie for the office.
In 2004, the race between Gregoire and Dino Rossi was so close that there were two recounts and Gregoire was eventually declared the winner by 133 votes out of 2.8 million cast.
In other state races, Democratic King County Councilman Bob Ferguson won the state attorney general's race. Democrat Jim McIntire defeated Sharon Hanek 58-42% for state treasurer.
Republican Kim Wyman was leading Democrat Kathleen Drew by about 41,000 votes for secretary of state, and Democrat Troy Kelley was leading Republican James Watkins 52-48% for state auditor.
In addition, Democrat Peter Goldmark defeated Republican Clint Didier 58-42% for commissioner of public lands, and Democrat Mark Kriedler defeated Republican John Adams 58-42% for insurance commissioner.
Republican Bill Finkbeiner on Wednesdsay conceded the race for lieutenant governor to incumbent Brad Owen, who held a 54-46% advantage among counted votes.
“The voters have chosen to keep Brad Owen in as the lieutenant governor. I have a lot of respect for Brad,” Finkbeiner said in a statement. “He cares about the Legislature, presides fairly over the Senate and is a dedicated public servant.”
McKenna, a two-term Washington state attorney general, may be best known for having joined the lawsuit by several states against President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act. He stood in contrast to Inslee on issues of health care, economic development and education funding.Inslee supported the high-profile ballot measure Referendum 74, which legalizes same-sex marriage while McKenna did not support it. Inslee also said that he would not vote in support of I-502, an initiative that allows for legal use of marijuana for adults over 21, but would not seek to overturn it. "I will be protective of the will of the voters here." McKenna said he opposed it.
The campaign between McKenna and Inslee saw each candidate raising $10 million, in addition to another $10 million in independent expenditures.
On Friday night, after conceding the race, McKenna said his future "is up in the air," but added that "public service is in my DNA."