Tonight's Biggest Winner Will Be...

By Josh Feit August 18, 2009


SEIU leader David Rolf says his union is less focused on stopping Ross Hunter as it is on electing Dow Constantine, whom they endorsed "because he reflects our values." Rolf correctly points out that SEIU spent far more on pro-Constantine independent expenditures than on anti-Hunter ones—$40,000 vs. $10,000.

He also said the union's anti-Hunter position "couldn't be less personal. I like Ross. He's a smart guy. But people should be held accountable for the terrible choices they make that cause death and destruction. You can't pass budgets like [last year's state budget, which Hunter shepherded through as head of the state House finance committee] and expect no one to talk about it."

I pointed out that Ross Hunter was hardly the only Democrat to vote in favor of the budget. And in fact, I was hard-pressed to find many Democrats who voted SEIU's way on issues like funding for health care workers. (For example, the only Seattle-area legislators who voted with SEIU on House Bill 1244—which cut health care workers, SEIU's rank and file—were Sen. Ken Jacobsen (D-46) and Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D11).)

"The Democrats lost their way," Rolf said. "They voted for a budget that Dino Rossi would be proud of." Asked if there was larger message here—was SEIU using Hunter as a test case to show Democratic leadership in Olympia that SEIU was going to help unions make good on their threat to go after Democrats after such a disappointing session for labor?—Rolf was clear. "Yes, there is a larger message here. Democrats shouldn't think we won't call them on it when they vote for a right-wing, all-cuts budget."

Finally, Rolf said SEIU targeted Hunter instead of Hunter's conservative Eastside colleague, state Sen. Fred Jarrett, because Hunter was doing better in fundraising, and so appeared to have a better shot at advancing.

Original post:

[Tonight's Biggest Winner Will Be...]

...lefty labor union Service Employees International Union, SEIU.

While they've given $10,000 to a political committee working to elect labor-friendly union candidate Max Vekich against establishment-friendly Tom Albro, that's not the race they're really interested in. (Nor is it clear that Vekich is going to win.)

What is clear is that state Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina), who's running for King County Executive, is going to lose tonight. (Recent polling has him at 8 percent, far behind the two frontrunners. Former KIRO-TV anchor Susan Hutchison and King County Council Member Dow Constantine are polling at at 37 and 20 respectively.)

SEIU has also thrown $10,000 into an independent expenditure campaign to defeat Hunter. (The anti-Hunter ad is running on PubliCola. PubliCola endorsed Hunter .)

SEIU, it seems, also tried to get some extra money to Hunter's opponent King County Council Member Dow Constantine, by funneling $3,000 to him through the 34th District Democrats—after officially maxing out to Constantine with an $800 contribution. That apparent ploy failed (see today's Morning Fizz .)

Why the obsession with knocking out a Democrat? Waiting to talk to SEIU head David Rolf, but sources report that the union wants to prevent Hunter from advancing politically (the King County Executive job is theoretically a stepping stone to governor or Congress) because they do not want a conservative Democrat going forward.

So, why isn't SEIU going after state Sen. Fred Jarrett (D-41, Mercer Island), another conservative Eastside Democrat running for King County Executive, as well? Well, sources also report: It's personal between SEIU and Hunter because of Hunter's role as state House finance chair—where he helped usher through cuts to nursing homes and home-care health workers, SEIU's rank and file.
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