Hutchison's Call and Response, Tears for Phillips, and Constantine Gears Up For a Fight

With about half of the ballots expected to arrive in King County Elections counted, it looks like the Executive race in the November general election will be the former television anchor vs the former DJ. As of 9:52 p.m., according to the King County Elections Web site, Susan Hutchison held a commanding lead over the crowded field with 37.37 percent of the vote. "Do we need a new kind of leadership?" Hutchison asked her thrilled supporters crowded into a top-floor banquet room at the Edgewater.

"Yes!" they called back.

These are victory parties for supporters so Hutchison's speech was understandably short on specifics, but she basically reiterated themes about putting aside partisan politics and bringing people together, saying the County currently runs on "bullying." Maybe she never got one of those famous Ron Sims hugs.

As of now, Dow Constantine follows with 22.41 percent. Trailing far behind are Fred Jarrett, Larry Phillips and Ross Hunter with 12.4, 11.73, and 10.89 respectively. Needless to say, things weren't quite so gleeful at Phillips' Spitfire party.

I didn't get a chance to hear the opening of his speech to the crowd, but Phillips wasn't quite ready to concede. He thanked his staff while his wife used a napkin to wipe a few tears from her eyes and on the television monitors overhead, David Hasselhoff (thankfully on mute) berated contestants on America's Got Talent.

Phillips pledged to keep pushing for his "Green Print" agenda, a series of plans and goals for King County ranging from lobbying the state to include greenhouse gas emission standards in the state Growth Management Act to supporting a $50 million bond to protect forest lands in the county. And he hasn't quite conceded officially, but he's pretty much there. "Whatever happens this evening," he concluded, "we're gonna pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off." Someone handed him a pair of shades.

Hutchison made a direct appeal to Phillips', Jarrett's and Hunter's backers. But talking to a couple of Democratic party staffers at the Spitfire, it sounds like they're prepared to go full tilt for Constantine in the weeks to come. Phillips himself hasn't quite made that leap yet.

But over at Kells in Post Alley, Constantine is already there. "Larry, Fred and Ross's supporters share my mainstream values," he said. "They're people who do not share Susan's Right Wing agenda."

Clearly Constantine intends to keep reminding voters of that. But despite the message, Hutchison's success seems to come thanks to her existing popularity with voters. Polly Sorensen, a supporter at her Edgewater fest, even calls her by a nickname. "I support Suzie because Suzie makes things happen," Sorensen said. "I think she's the best thing we've got."

Constantine knows he's got to combat that friendly image and her camera-ready appearance. "She's a professional telelvision personality, she's going to be better on camera," he said. "But I'm going to be better on substance."

They have two and a half months to convince voters of that.

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