You don’t need to squint too hard between the lines of yesterday’s Alki Foundation endorsement of Dow Constantine to read a pretty damn stinging rebuke of Republican Susan Hutchison, and her qualifications for King County Executive… or rather, lack thereof:
Alki Chairman Michael Luis said the county exec’s race was a difficult one for the group. But Luis said it boiled down to this: “Susan Hutchison remains sort of a political unknown and just never made people totally comfortable that she was ready to take the reins of a complicated government.”
As a result, Constantine, a liberal Democrat, got the nod over Hutchison, a self-described “moderate nonpartisan” who says Constantine is responsible for the county’s financial problems and beholden to special interests.
Constantine is not perceived as a “business-type candidate,” Luis acknowledged. But he is “well known” and could walk into the exec’s job “knowing how the place works.” The general sense among the Alki group was that Hutchison “hadn’t made the case she could do the job,” Luis said.
Ouch. And that’s putting it lightly.
The exec endorsement was indeed a difficult one for Alki, the political arm of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, but not in the sense that the final vote was all that close. This was a group strongly inclined to embrace Hutchison on ideological grounds, and she reportedly entered the process with a contingent of supporters at the Chamber. But after flubbing her interviews, she just couldn’t shake the impression that she was both uninformed and unqualified… and by a long shot.
Luis describes Hutchison as a “political unknown,” but then so is Joe Mallahan, and yet that didn’t stop the pro-business Chamber from endorsing the most pro-business of the two mayoral finalists. But when forced to pick between the liberal Constantine—who recently led the fight against Glacier Northwest’s Maury Island gravel mine—and the Cato-spouting, Discovery-Institute-board-sitting ex-newsreader Hutchison, pragmatism trumped ideology, and Alki members felt they had no choice but to endorse the only candidate who is professionally prepared to actually do the job.
Kinda ironic for Hutchison to lose the Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement when a central theme of her campaign has been her promise to declare the county “open for business.”
Hutchison has also pitched herself as the only candidate able to bring all parties to the table, yet it’s Constantine who is managing to put together a coalition of business, labor and environmental supporters, while Hutchison has largely distinguished herself through her union-baiting. If Hutchison does have any consensus building skills, they’ve mostly been utilized building a consensus for her opponent.