SEATTLE—Council member Dow Constantine and former news anchor Susan Hutchison are running for King County Executive. Both say voting for their opponent would be a huge mistake.
"My opponent attacks me with some outlandish allegations," begins King County Executive Candidate Susan Hutchison.
"Do you feel this campaign has gotten too negative?" I ask King County Council Chair Dow Constantine. "Oh, yeah," he says, "It's very difficult to attacked by hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of smear ads."
The two candidates running for King County Council are getting testy and clearing battle lines. For one: sparring on party lines and personal values in non-partisan race:
"Party does not define your values or your ethics. All we have to do is look at our political parties and know that is the truth."
"Why the secrecy?" says Constantine. "Because she knows that if the people of King County realize that she's only associated with right wing causes they will vote for me."
Susan Hutchison has never served in political office, but says she honed her leadership skills managing the Seattle Symphony, chairing several civic organizations and anchoring for 20 years.
Dow Constantine has been involved in politics for decades: as a state representative, state senator and king county council member for 7 years. He's been the chair since the beginning of the year.
"I simply point out his record and say it is his experience that has led to the budget crisis we are in," says Hutchison.
"This is no time to take a huge risk on someone who does not have any experience, it is time to turn to someone who has a demonstrated history in reform and leadership."
Right now: the Public Disclosure Commission is investigating campaign violation complaints against both candidates.
Hutchison: for one that a supporter let her use an expensive Laurelhurst home as her headquarters.
And, for nearly $20,000 in what they say are unexplained campaign expenditures.
The PDC called 78 other alleged violations "insignificant."
They're also investigating a complaint that Constantine's campaign may have somehow taken part in the complaints.
"They came out the night before the ballots were dropped. I think it's very obvious that it's a game being played by the Democratic Party against me," says Hutchison.
"The fact is people should not be allowed to get away with that kind of stuff," says Constantine.
Hutchison says she's working with the PDC, but it may not get resolved until after the election.
But whoever wins, they have similar goals in their first 60 days in office: Helping families fearing more landslides, flooding from green river and the possible failure of the Howard Hansen Dam, capping the spread of the swine flu and cutting money and staff from the budget -to make ends meet.
Big promises and challenging goals for a brand new executive.
"We feel great about the race, we're exactly where we want to be," says Hutchison.
"I think we're starting to get our message out about the clear choice between the two candidates," says Constantine.
Constantine says he's already helped to cut more than $90 million from the budget this year and says he'll cut another 10 and 15% from the legislative and executive branch.
Hutchison says she will cut staff too - and among other things - will shift management of the jails to the sheriff's department to save money.