I’ve already gone out on a limb by predicting that none of the challengers in the Seattle mayor’s race have the political chops to unseat unpopular yet effective incumbent Greg Nickels. It’s not an endorsement of Nickels, I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.
So why haven’t I made a similar effort to handicap the King County Executive race? Well, because like nearly every other political observer I’ve talked to, I haven’t the foggiest idea who’s gonna eventually come out on top.
What I do know is the that the wet dream scenario for each of the four Democrats would be to face off against Susan Hutchison in November, but while she’s the only Republican, the only woman and the only candidate with name ID north of 30% in the race, I’m still not so sure this scenario is such a sure thing. Name ID and gender won’t do it alone, so if Hutchison expects to make it through the primary she can’t keep ducking interviews and candidate forums. And while I suppose the $58,200 she’s raised thus far is respectable, nearly $45,000 of it has come in the form of double-max donations from the usual suspects (Kemper Freeman, Bruce McCaw, John Stanton, et al), accounting for a stunning average of over $1000 per contributor. Thanks to contribution limits, at some point Hutchison is going to have to expand her base beyond the very, very wealthy if she expects to stay competitive, even in the money race.
Before Hutchison stepped in, the primary was shaping up to be a regional playoff, with Eastside legislators Fred Jarrett and Ross Hunter battling to faceoff in November against the winner of the Seattle bracket contest between Dow Constantine and Larry Phillips. But Hutchison is at the very least a monkey wrench that makes all efforts at prognostication nearly impossible. A fairly even split on one or both of the Democratic brackets works strongly in Hutchison’s favor, but even mildly lopsided outcomes in the regional contests could easily result in an early exit for the former newscaster. We’ll see.
As for the Constantine vs. Phillips, Hunter vs. Jarrett subplots, well, it’s too early to pick discernible favorites. For a while there I thought Constantine was picking up momentum, but that appears to have stalled at least for the moment. And neither Jarrett nor Hunter have had time to do much campaigning or fundraising since the end of the legislative session.
So while I don’t know how interesting the debate will be, for the moment at least, it looks like an interesting horserace.