KC executive's race | Eastside candidates fail to advance in primary

Ross Hunter (top photo, on right) interacts with supports after the polls closed on Primary election night. Below, Fred Jarrett talks to a supporter at his election-night party. - Joshua Adam Hicks/Bellevue Reporter
Ross Hunter (top photo, on right) interacts with supports after the polls closed on Primary election night. Below, Fred Jarrett talks to a supporter at his election-night party.
— image credit: Joshua Adam Hicks/Bellevue Reporter

The two Eastsiders in a crowded field of King County executive candidates may have canceled each other out in their bids for office.

State Sen. Fred Jarrett of Mercer Island was in third place with 12 percent of the vote after early results of the primary election came out Tuesday night, while state Rep. Ross Hunter of Medina was last among the major contestants with just under 11 percent.

Former KIRO-TV news anchor Susan Hutchison lead all candidates with over 37 percent of the vote, followed by King County Council member Dow Constantine, who had around 22 percent.

King County Council member Larry Phillips had over 11 percent.

Jarrett expressed confidence that he could have moved to the general election if Hunter hadn’t entered the race. The two lawmakers are allies in Olympia, yet Hunter decided to join the contest after Jarrett announced he would run.

“I consider Ross to be a great friend,” Jarrett said. “Friends do stupid things, and you can still be friends. I think it was a stupid thing for him to run.”

Hunter and Jarrett combined for enough votes by Tuesday to overtake Constantine, but there are no guarantees where Hunter’s votes would have gone if he hadn’t run.

Neither of the Eastside candidates expressed hope of overcoming their deficits, with around 17 percent of the vote counted Tuesday.

“It’s not happening, would be my guess,” Hunter said during an election-night party at his home. “You would have to have a radical change in the results.”

Jarrett shared similar thoughts at a gathering in Medina.

“You can make the math work, but it would be strained,” he said.

Jarrett suggested during his campaign that his fellow candidates were playing a game of follow-the-leader, borrowing his ideas and claiming them as their own.

Jarrett was the first to propose scrapping plans for a planned expansion of the county’s foot-ferry system, and he originated the call for county employees to start paying a portion of their health-care premiums.

Other candidates eventually incorporated those ideas into their campaigns, specifically with Hunter becoming vocal about eliminating the ferry plan, while Constantine pitched a plan of his own for making the top-paid county workers pay for part of the cost for their medical benefits .

The county council is considering new proposals related to both issues, and Hunter suggested he was at least content with that, if not a win in the primary.

“We’ve changed the political debate in King County,” he said. “They’ve changed policy as a result of what we’ve done on our campaign.”

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