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Posts tagged as “King county”

Unhelpful labels

In Idaho, the Democrat holding the premier elective office in the state was, for a couple of years, David Bieter, the mayor of Boise - which is a nonpartisan office. We have Bieter's Democratic background on conclusive record because he served as one in the state legislature, not any other way. The fact of the mayor's office being nonpartisan probably was a help to Bieter's election and re-election.

The office of King County executive is also officially non-partisan, but here too the partisan background of most of the contenders isn't a big secret. Of the five candidates, four have been elected to office before, and their background as Democrats (in Fred Jarrett's case, of recent vintage, but nonetheless) is well established.

Susan Hutchison, the fifth candidate and a former news anchor at KIRO-TV, is a different matter, because she hasn't run for office, partisan or otherwise, before, and there's no party registration in Washington. So where does she fit into the picture?

She's been described as the Republican and the conservative in the race, which may not be helpful right now in King County - “I don’t think labels are helpful,” she told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (in a story that highlighted how little she has specifically said about her views).

But the article also pointed out (while mentioning some prominent Democratic backers) her very close ties to Republican and conservative organizations.

The site PubliCola has been digging in further, pointing out "FEC records showing that Susan Hutchison’s campaign manager, Jordan McCarran, has worked for Mike Huckabee and Sen Sam Brownback."

Unhelpful to Hutchison (who because of her years on local TV might be the be the best-known of the five candidates) or not, looks like the labels may be going to stick.

Sims and housing

Ron Sims

Ron Sims

Ron Sims, executive of King County for now into his third term, is a highly skilled politician - one of the best speakers in the Northwest, among other things - has been something of a political lightning rod for years. Enough that there's been some talk that an attempt at a fourth term would be problematic. As recently as December 17, the Seattle Times was reporting, "If Ron Sims runs for a fourth term as King County executive, it will be against the advice of State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz, who has joined other former Sims political allies in pushing for him to step aside after next year." Even some of his friends said they were "dreading the prospect of a campaign for a fourth term."

Over on Sound Politics, you'll find a hit from within a few hours of the nomination of Sims as Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Oops. On the day that Ron Sims gets nominated to a senior position in the Obama administration, he reveals more ethical shortcomings by committing a serious PDC violation, earning himself a formal complaint. See the Twitter box in the upper right corner of the King County Executive web page. Since about 6pm Sunday it's had a link to a P-I editorial promoting Sims' preferred candidate for Elections Director.

That may not be all that comes to the Senate's attention, but the guess here is that Sims won't have much trouble with Senate confirmation. He does have support, to begin with, from both of his state's senators, and the governor.

Although this is the number 2 slot at HUD, the agency's press release says he "will be charged with managing HUD's day-to-day operations, a nearly $39 billion annual operating budget and the agency's 8,500 employees." And, presumably, getting into housing policy to some extent.

Sims becomes, then, the top Northwest figure in the Obama Administration, in a position of some note since housing happens to be unusually central right now.

In thinking about his work at King County, "Sims" and "housing" don't necessarily go smack-up together. That said, he is a strong and effective figure. Today's Joni Balter column in the Times sums up the case for him.