Susan Hutchison speaks at today's 43rd District Democrats Picnic at Gas Works Park.

To the surprise of almost everyone on hand at the 43rd District Democrats picnic at Gas Works Park this afternoon, King County Executive candidate and former KIRO-TV anchor (and, gasp, "a Republican!"), Susan Hutchison, showed up to give a stump speech and chat with members for about an hour.

The event was the group's annual straw poll picnic, where members are polled on who the 43rd (Capitol Hill, U. District, Wallingford) should endorse in this year's races.

Hutchison, who has a long record of contributing to Republicans (Dino Rossi, U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and former GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee), used to be on the board of the Discovery Institute —most famous for its losing effort to have Intelligent Design taught in public schools.

Go figure: Hutchison is widely considered to be a Republican despite her insistence that she's not. (In early June, PubliCola broke the story that her campaign manager, Jordan McCarran, and her California-based, partisan political consultants, Dresner, Wickers & Associates , are in the GOP camp.)

Today at Gas Works, Hutchison—who also considered running against Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in 2006 —repeated what she's been saying for months now on the campaign trail: She's a non-partisan candidate in a non-partisan race. In her speech, she stuck to generic issues about ending corruption and cronyism in county government and supporting buses and light rail. She also told the crowd that a former Obama volunteer works on her campaign.


However, she also reportedly claimed that she did not support Huckabee, a darling of the Christian right in the '08 Presidential campaign who said he didn't believe in evolution. But Federal Elections Commission records show she donated $500 to Huckabee's campaign in November, 2007.

Picnic goers were reportedly amazed when Hutchison showed up. (She was accompanied by an entourage of five college-age guys in Hutchison T-shirts who filmed her speech.) Although, she was invited. (She claimed it was the first Democratic Party event she's been invited to.)

Ironically, popular Democratic King County Council Member Dow Constantine, who's running against Hutchison for King County Executive, was not at the event. Constantine is openly campaigning as the Democratic candidate.  (For the record: King County Council seats are officially non-partisan now, but: Constantine was elected to the seat as a Democrat; was a Democratic legislator in Olympia; and is an active member of the 34th District Democrats where he once served as chair.)

In June, Constantine made a campaign issue out of Hutchison's Republican status ; a ploy that catapulted him to the top of the pack of openly Democratic candidates in the primary. Constantine lapped his three main Democratic rivals in this week's (officially non-partisan) top-two primary, getting 26 percent of the vote to Hutchison's 33 percent.

At the picnic, a Constantine surrogate spoke on Constantine's behalf.

Constantine got 95 percent to Hutchison's 5 percent in today's straw poll tally.