It looks like Larry Phillips might be able to use that anti-Sims campaign after all--or parts of it anyway. Phillips has spent the last week railing against the choices for transit projects under considerations in Olympia. Today he kicked out a press release criticizing the House's version of the transit budget for not including projects that would facilitate getting train service across Lake Washington, something approved by voters last November as part of the Sound Transit package. "While the people of this region are eager to move forward with building light rail and leave behind the endless debating and delays of the past, legislators continue to throw up roadblocks that thwart the will of voters and delay light rail," he says in the release. Phillips had similar things to say about the Senate version last week.
Don't see how that relates to a campaign against Sims? Here's how the logic goes.Phillips spent much of last summer and fall criticizing Sims for pretty much anything and everything he did. One of his favorite talking points was Sims withholding support for the last two major transit proposals. But then Sims pulled out of the race to go be Deputy Secretary at HUD (although no confirmation hearings have been scheduled for that yet) and Phillips' fellow county council member Dow Constantine got into the race. Constantine and Phillips are pretty close on the big issues. As a result, they've been to attempting to distinguish themselves from each other in more obscure ways, like showing how much they love rural King County residents. (Sorry, guys, you both supported the hated Critical Areas Ordinance, they don't like either of you.)
But now Phillips' transit campaign platform is back in play because at the other end of the East Link debate is state Sen. Fred Jarrett, also running for King County Exec this fall. Jarrett sits on the state Senate Transportation Committee. Phillips never directly mentions Jarrett in his press release today. The release went out via the County e-mail system and the rules say you can't use that for campaigning, as city council hopeful Jessie Israel discovered. But the implication is there: Mercer Island-based Jarrett backed a budget that blocks the train you voters wanted so badly. Speaking by phone earlier, Phillips said just that. (He also noted that he was calling from his own phone, not the County's.)
A couple hours after Phillips' release arrived in my e-mail inbox, Dow Constantine sent out a press release of his own also criticizing the legislature over the transit budget. They might not have figured out how to run against each other yet, but apparently they've joined forces in the fight against Jarrett.