Election Night '09: Dow Constantine Wins Prom Queen, Er, King County Executive

Enjoy the love now, Dow, it's only going to get harder from here.
Party: Dow Constantine

Location: The Crystal Ballroom at the Edgewater Hotel (ironically, the place where Susan Hutchison reveled in her own primary election victory in August.)

Mood: So excited that even though the election returns were already announced, every time the King County Executive's race scrolls through on the news ticker, people cheer once again. Mixed reactions of "woo!" and "shit!" to the much closer mayoral race, which this crowd clearly doesn't agree on.

Drink of Choice: Glasses of red and white vino abound; a big change from Constantine's primary night party at Kell's.

Dow gave up drunken revelry Irish-style for something far more classy this time around. And it was a party befitting King County's new royalty. It's as if he knew he'd have a 14-point lead with less than half the expected ballots counted. He rented out not only the ballroom, but a private party lounge across the hall and the Presidential Suite. Pity anyone tourists who splurged on a room on the fourth floor at the Edgewater.

With Greg Nickels out of the running for any elected seat, Constantine's fete was the place to see and be seen and every local politico from competitors Ross Hunter and Fred Jarrett to most of the Democratic County Council, to Seattle officials like Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis put in an appearance. (Larry Phillips, a man who wanted the position so badly, he jumped into the race against former ally Ron Sims, didn't put in an appearance.)

"My goodness," Constantine told his supporters, packed shoulder-to-shoulder, the temperature of the room rising fast. "Well that was over quick wasn't it? This nine months of working every day and then 15 minutes."

Constantine thanked everyone there and his opponent, Susan Hutchison (look for Don Ward's report from her gathering at the Bellevue Hyatt). "And to her supporters, I say this: give us a chance."

It was the first and only time tonight that Constantine addressed the terrifying challenge that sits before him--balancing the budget of a government practically bankrupted by program building under Sims and im Eyman initiatives. But the specifics of dealing with that are for later this month when Constantine actually takes office. For now, it's all optimism. "You watch us," he told the crowd. "We're gonna do it."

He'll need the help of every single person sipping wine in that room, from the soon-to-be-former Mayor's staffers to his former rivals, who will have significant influence over any assistance the county may get during the next legislative session.

Not long after giving his speech, Constantine retreated to the private party lounge. But his supporters stayed for the party.

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