Walking to the Seattle Aquarium for last night's King County Executive forum, I gave my parents a call for our weekly chat. My mom, a third grade teacher, had just done a training for a lesson on sharks and she was full of new and interesting tidbits like: "did you know sharks' eyelids close up because there's so much debris in the water when they kill something?" My other favorite gem from our conversation was this: some species of sharks are what's known as ovoviviparous. It means the mama shark lays eggs inside its uterus. The eggs usually just have a thin membrane for a shell and when they hatch, the babies eat their yolks until ready to be born.
But in some species, the hatching begins a cannibalistic free-for-all where the baby sharks, known as pups, eat each other for nutritional sustenance. The winner gets to stay in the uterus until it's ready to swim in the ocean and is born the sole surviving member of the group.
Our conversation popped back into my mind when Dow Constantine and Susan Hutchison faced off once again in front of a tank full of Puget Sound fish.Most of the debate can be summed up thusly:
Constantine: My opponent is a conservative Republican (did I mention I'm Pro-Choice, I know that's not the topic tonight, but just FYI), and therefore bad for the environment.
Hutchison: My parents own a llama farm, which means I love the environment. My opponent is part of the government that is now deep in the red, which means county money going to environmental groups may be lost and that's on him.
It's worth noting that on a question about how building in floodplains impacts the regular soaking people living near rivers get, both candidates instead talked at length about the Howard Hanson dam. Obviously the possibility of Kent flooding is high on the priority list, but it's important to remember that several areas around the county are regularly flooded and deep discussion on how we allow development and what it looks like when we regulate building is important. But Hutchison would only say that banning building in floodplains is good policy and Constantine called the issue complicated.
Anywho, back to the sharks. The debate highlight came at the end when moderator Ross Reynolds let the candidates ask each other a question. Their voices dripped with sarcasm as they politely asked each other questions designed to draw out their respective campaigns' central attacks.
Hutchison said she had spoken with State Auditor (and Hutchison backer) Brian Sonntag who said the county had not been in touch with his office about fixing the problems reported in a June audit. She then asked Constantine why that might be the case. "Well thank you for asking that question, Susan," he responded.
He then argued that he had sponsored legislation both early in his tenure at the county and since the audit to increase the ability of the county to respond to requests from state and internal auditors. "I know you want me to be the incumbent in this race, Susan, but the incumbent has gone to DC," he concluded.
Hutchison rephrased her question as a follow-up, implying Constantine hadn't answered it. He more or less had, but throughout last night's debate, acknowledging your opponent or the questions was clearly less important than emphasizing your campaign message. For Hutchison that means saying over and over that Constantine is part of the problem.
And Constantine's question did more or less the same thing. He attacked Hutchison as a conservative, asking about her association with the anti-light rail Washington Policy Center and donations to the Building Industry Association of Washington, a construction industry group that goes after anyone with an odor of anti-development regulation. Hutchison denied giving money to the BIAW (though she did give to their political action committee, ChangePAC). As to her association with the Policy Center, Hutchison accused Constantine of being "a foreigner to the marketplace of ideas."
In a nutshell, our electoral system hatched these two candidates, but only one can be birthed and the fight is best when they go on the direct attack. The first televised exercise in watching them attempt to devour each other is scheduled for Thursday night at 6 p.m. on KCTS.