Republican Senate challenger Mike McGavick revealed a drunken driving incident and discussed his divorce and other past missteps, saying, “It’s true I’ve made mistakes.”

In his remarkable confession Thursday, McGavick said he had no indication that opponents were about to divulge the 1993 DUI case when he decided to reveal it himself. He is the favorite in the Sept. 19 GOP primary for the nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell (news, bio, voting record).

His comments came in an interview with The Associated Press and he later covered the same topics in “an open letter from Mike” on his campaign blog.

The divorce, a questionable campaign tactic from 1988, and layoffs at Safeco Insurance Co. had all been noted in previous campaign coverage. Word of the DUI in 1993 was new, as was his overall decision to publicly discuss his past in hopes, he said, of being to return to focusing on the issues.

“I just felt that given some of the stuff out there, that I was better off to just make clear that I know I am not without faults,” he said. He said clearing the air would allow him to focus.

“It’s true I’ve made mistakes, and learned from that,” he said.

McGavick, 48, is a former campaign director and chief of staff for Sen. Slade Gorton, whom Cantwell defeated in 2000 by fewer than 2,300 votes. He retired from Safeco to run against her this year.

Cantwell leads him in the polls, but both parties and most analysts foresee a potentially close race.

State Democratic Party spokesman Kelly Steele said he was surprised by McGavick’s comments. Cantwell’s campaign had no comment.

In the drunken driving incident, McGavick said he had been to several parties and made “a terrible lapse in judgment” in getting behind the wheel. He said he paid a fine and agreed to a year’s probation and alcohol education.

He also discussed the unraveling of his first marriage — “I was heartsick” — and said he greatly regretted the decision to continue running a Gorton television ad in 1988 after questions were raised about its accuracy.

On the Safeco job losses, he said a first round of 1,200 layoffs were an effort to try to save the company, and he regrets leading people to believe no more would be necessary when another round of layoffs came later. Democrats have said he got a “golden parachute” of $28 million when he left Safeco.


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