Extra Fizz: "Soviet Seattle"

By Josh Feit June 17, 2009

In every urban liberal community I've lived in, there's always some sort of version of this joke—"The People's Republic of Portland," for example—where people lovingly poke fun at themselves for being a flaming lefty enclave in the straight world. (I first heard the joke growing up in D.C. in reference to the People's Republic of Takoma Park.)

But while it's kosher for a particular group to make fun of themselves, it can be a little dicey when someone else does it—especially when that someone has a reputation for being brash and condescending. And even worse when they're a candidate.

Voila: At a recent candidate forum on the Eastside, County Executive candidate Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina), referred to Seattle as "The Democratic Soviet Seattle" —(hey Fremont!)

Hunter was making the point that King County's bloated budget hurts the County's credibility (and ability to get things done) in the State legislature. "When you've got a friend," Hunter begins, "the leader of the Democratic caucus [Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford)] from the Democratic Soviet of Seattle complaining about labor costs, you know you have to think about that."









A woman at the forum, wasn't impressed with Hunter's flip remark—"I really take umbrage at the terminology, the  Soviet of Seattle"—and asks him how he's going to be a ease the divide between Seattle and East King County. 

Watch the exchange here.

Hunter, who says he has "a tendency to be snarky, but it's my most endearing quality," tells PubliCola, "I made a dumb joke, but the point is still there. King County needs to get a handle on its budget." 

Hunter  points out that "structural problems are baked into the King County budget like contract negotiations that put a five percent salary increase in every year for five years."  Hunter, who complains, "I don't expect inflation to go up by five percent every year," says those kinds of "priorities" hurt King County's ability to get sympathy from anyone in Olympia, even Democrats who are supposed to be allies.
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