Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Hutchison - a partisan non-partisan?"

Neil Modie (Strange Bedfellows):
Susan Hutchison has never run for elective office as a Republican, but not for lack of trying.
In late 2005 and early 2006, the former KIRO TV news anchor traveled the state, ardently wooing state and local GOP leaders to seek their backing for what she hoped would be her campaign for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

In the end, she chose not to run, perhaps for multiple reasons. For one thing, many party officials felt she wasn't qualified to seek the office. For another, most GOP leaders and money had already lined up behind the far better-credentialed Mike McGavick, who became the nominee but lost to Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell.

That aborted non-candidacy was one of numerous occasions on which Hutchison, now running for the now nonpartisan office of King County executive, demonstrated her partisan Republican ties.

Yet in a TV interview over the weekend, Hutchison insisted once again, as she has on other occasions, that she has never been affiliated with a political party. This time it was on KING-5's "Up Front" program, which aired Sunday.

When asked whether she is a Republican, Hutchison replied, "You know, it's interesting how this issue keeps raising its head because this is a nonpartisan race, and I'm running because I'm a nonpartisan. I've never affiliated with a party; you know we don't register (to vote by party) in this state."

That brought a guffaw Monday from an influential Republican Party leader, who attended GOP meetings at which Hutchison sought party endorsements for her hoped-for Senate campaign in 2006. The official requested anonymity.

"She wanted to run and she was very partisan, and for her to say she is a nonpartisan is just ridiculous," the party leader said.

Members of the Reagan Wing, a right-wing faction of the party, begged Hutchison that year to become a candidate, but party movers and shakers showed scant enthusiasm for her.

The Republican official who asked for anonymity said it would be reasonable for Hutchison to argue that her GOP ties are a red herring now in her campaign for a nonpartisan office, but that for her to say she is a "nonpartisan" and has "never affiliated with a party" is not true.

Hutchison's campaign consultant is San Francisco-based Dresner Wickers & Associates, which on its Web site calls itself "the go-to political consulting firm for Republican candidates, ballot initiatives and major trade organizations."

The four Democratic elected officials running for county executive have been eager to expose Hutchison's Republican leanings because King County tilts strongly Democratic. A SurveyUSA poll done for KING-5 shows Hutchison leading her rivals by a wide margin, perhaps thanks in large part to her 20 years as a TV anchor.

Hutchison was one of the most prominent backers of a 2008 ballot measure that made King County elective offices nonpartisan. She admitted publicly last week that she probably wouldn't be running for county executive if it were still partisan.

Many Republicans backed the measure, arguing, as Hutchison has, that most county issues having to do with buses, sewers and the like aren't partisan in nature. Democrats labeled it a GOP scheme to sneak more Republicans into countywide offices by removing party labels from the ballot.

In January 2006, after party leaders poured cold water on Hutchison's hope of running for the Senate, the Republican State Committee met to elect a new party chairwoman, Diane Tebelius. Hutchison asked to address the committee afterward even though she wasn't a member.

Tebelius initially refused, GOP sources said, but relented at the insistence of some of the party's conservatives. Hutchison then spoke to the group privately, apparently to promote her prospects for a potential future candidacy.

Later the same year, Hutchison chaired the Republican Party's 11th Legislative District caucus at which it chose delegates to the party's state convention. She doesn't live in the 11th District but was invited to be a "guest chair" there, according to a party leader.

Hutchison has contributed thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and causes – including the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign and the 2008 presidential campaign of Mike Huckabee -- and has never donated money to a Democratic candidate.

She gave $1,000 in 2005 to ChangePAC, the campaign fundraising arm of the Building Industry Association of Washington, or BIAW, the homebuilders' conservative, political hardball-playing Olympia lobby that spends heavily trying to elect conservative candidates. Dresner Wickers, Hutchison's campaign consultant, has done extensive work for the BIAW.

Hutchison received an endorsement Sunday in response to her "Up Front" appearance, from Dale Foreman of Wenatchee, a former state Republican chairman, state House Republican leader and the lead lawyer in the state GOP's failed attempt to overturn the 2004 election of Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire.

"Susan Hutchison has been a solid supporter of conservative candidates," Foreman wrote on the "Up Front" blog, "but she is thoughtful person and not just another political hack."

Howie P.S.: This prompts me to ask:
Susie, how else are misleading us about yourself?

No comments: