Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Hutchison’s Ploy

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 9, 2009

The race for King County Executive is now non-partisan because the voters said so but no one is fooled. Of the five leading candidates two are sitting Democrat members of the King County Council (Dow Constantine and Larry Phillips) and two are Democrat members of the state legislature (Senator Fred Jarrett and Representative Ross Hunter). The fifth candidate with a chance to win is Susan Hutchison. Seeking her first elective office, she is a known Republican. That may surprise some Seattle liberals who think anyone who is a journalist (she once anchored KIRO TV news) and a civic leader particularly in the arts could be anything but a Democrat.

Three major election changes will be in play in this years run to replace Executive Ron Sims, the newly appointed Obama administration bureaucrat. First, the Primary Election has been moved from mid September to August 18, 2009. The two candidates who emerge from the primary will have about four extra weeks to make their case to the voters. This is probably a positive change. Such is not the case for the other two election changes, the Top Two Primary and non-partisan elections for King County offices. The Top Two Primary, approved by voters in 2004 and upheld by the courts, was first used in elections for state offices in 2008. Under this system, one may still be identified by party on the primary ballot but only the top two vote getters, regardless of party, advance to the General Election. Last year, King County voters removed the party preference by passing Initiative 26 making King County elected offices non-partisan. Minor parties are effectively eliminated, the two major parties are weakened and voters lose one measure of a candidate’s political philosophy. Like the new rules or not, campaign strategies will be different in 2009.

Hutchison has finessed her way out of the first series of candidate forums leaving the floor to the Democrats. Her obvious ploy is to let the four Democrats split up the Democratic vote while she slips in under the radar to the General Election. If she can quietly energize and hold the Republican voters in the primary, her strategy has a reasonable chance of success. But former State Representative Toby Nixon, a solid Republican, has endorsed Republican turned Democrat Fred Jarrett. What is the old adage? “The best laid plans of mice and ‘political candidates’ oft go awry.”

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One Response to “Hutchison’s Ploy”

  1. Mark said

    Surprising that there are no comments here — maybe you have a reputation for not tolerating trolls?

    After hearing Susan last night, addressing the 46th LD Republicans, I came away fairly enthused. I think this race has the potential to be quite interesting, and, depending on how she handles future events and her success at fund-raising, we could be in for good ride.

    I am somewhat disappointed in, if not surprised at, the media’s laziness in coverage. They seem to prefer to throw out a label, than to actually do the work necessary to actually determine what a candidate’s positions are on the issues.

    I look forward to hearing more from all the contenders for the office that Mr. Sims has resigned.

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