Opinion

King County executive race dominates primary season | Bob Roegner

With the beautiful weather we’ve been having and an earlier primary, about 75 percent of the voting public may not have noticed, but there are some exciting political races going on.

At the Aug. 18 primary, 25 percent of the voters are expected to cast ballots to determine who will advance to the November general election. The race for King County executive gets top billing as Ron Sims left to join the Obama administration, leaving an impressive legacy but a whole lot of budget challenges.

King County Council members Larry Phillips and Dow Constantine are moderate Democrats from Seattle who have served as county staff members and state legislators prior to election to the council. Both have chaired the council and are seasoned Seattle political insiders who know county government. Both received a “Very Good” rating from the Municipal League. Both have suburban ties. Constantine represents Burien, and Phillips is on the Friends of the Hylebos advisory board in Federal Way.

Fred Jarrett and Ross Hunter are Democrats and Eastside legislators. Jarrett is a state Senator and Hunter a House member. Jarrett also served as mayor of Mercer Island and is a past president of the Suburban Cities Association. Both received a “Very Good” from the Municipal League. But only one of these four candidates is likely to advance to the November election.

Former KIRO newscaster Susan Hutchinson continues to lead in most of the polls. The county executive position was switched to non-partisan by the voters. But partisan politics is still a major part of who will win. The Republican base county-wide is about 32 percent. Hutchison, who got a “Good” rating from the Municipal League, will get almost all of it. The four Democrats and three others will split the remaining 68 percent. It is very unlikely that two of these would get more than 32 percent each. Phillips, Constantine and Hunter still have money for television, and Hunter and Jarrett got the Seattle Times endorsement.

Seattle has a crowded mayoral and council primary, which will draw more Democrats to the polls — which will help Phillips and Constantine.

There isn’t much in suburban cities to attract voters, although you have some interesting primaries in Shoreline, Bothell, Federal Way and Auburn. Also, the numbers will split more evenly and will not offset the Democratic Seattle turnout. Hutchison will advance, where she is likely to face either Phillips or Constantine. But if you’re looking for an upset, watch Jarrett. He’s shown some movement.

In Seattle, Mayor Greg Nickels is likely to face council member Jan Drago in the final. Both got a “Very Good” from the Municipal League. However, the highest rating of “Outstanding” went to Joseph Mallahan. Could he surprise Drago for the second spot? Maybe — he’s put a lot of his own money into television.

In Auburn, Mayor Pete Lewis drew three opponents. Local business people Shelly Erickson and Frank Lonergan both got an “Adequate” Municipal League rating as did council member Virginia Haugen. Haugen has higher name identification and is likely to face Lewis in November. Lewis was perceived by some to be vulnerable this year. However, it doesn’t appear he’ll have much trouble with this field.

Over on the Eastside, Reagan Dunn is the only county council member to have a primary. He received an “Outstanding” from the Municipal League and shouldn’t have any trouble in either the primary or general election.

Rob Holland and David Doug should advance in position 3 of the Port Commission. Tom Albro and Max Vekich will likely advance in position 4.

For the Seattle City Council, watch Sally Bagshaw in position 4. In position 8, look for Bob Rosencrantz and Jordan Royer to advance.

Next week, suburban hot spot: Federal Way judge and city council.

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