In a place where Barack Obama won 70 percent of last November's presidential vote, you'd think it would be relatively easy for a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat like Dow Constantine to win the county executive's race. But voters last year also approved a measure making county-wide offices officially non-partisan, which has added a new twist to the race between Constantine and Susan Hutchison.Howie P.S.: "Gun rights advocate endorses Hutchison" seems to support Dow's message about a "dramatic difference in values.".
Constantine, a long-time Democratic office holder, finds himself trailing Hutchison in a contest that has in many ways become a referendum on the way government functions in the state's largest county. But while there won't be a 'D' or an 'R' next to the candidates' names on the November ballot, partisan politics have still played a big part in the campaign. Constantine separated himself from the pack of other Democrats seeking the job in the primary by aggressively challenging Hutchison, labeling the former KIRO-TV broadcaster an "extremely conservative Republican." Hutchison, who has ties to Republicans and conservative causes, shot back that Constantine was trying to distract voters from the budget mess at King County he helped create in his eight years on the County Council. Hutchison says county government has grown bloated and arrogant and only an outsider can change that.
In an interview with seattlepi.com last week at Seattle's Union Station, Constantine talked about why he believes his experience as a councilman and state lawmaker make him the right person to lead in a time of crisis. He spoke about the need for the region to stop viewing itself as many different cities but rather an integrated economy, why the county and the state need to change how they collect taxes and why unpaid furloughs for county workers are necessary to deal with next year's $56 million operating budget deficit. He also again challenged Hutchison, saying there's a "dramatic difference" in values between the two candidates, that Hutchison has flip-flopped on things like support for light rail and that she "opposes a woman's right to chose."
What follows is an edited transcript of the interview.
"This election is a game-changer for politics in Washington State...Dow Constantine is the type of Seattle liberal who has dominated the recent political scene. But if Susan can defeat him in November, it will open doors for numerous candidates in 2010 and in 2013 who will change the direction our state is headed.""Constantine, Hutchison on environmental issues" has this, for example:
On environmental issues, voters face a clear choice in this race between Dow Constantine and Susan Hutchison for King County executive.
She supports the expansion of a gravel mine on Maury Island; he opposes it. He says climate change is a top priority for the executive, connected to local policies from land use to transportation. She says global warming takes a back seat to public safety and budget issues.