Mud-slinging starts in King County Exec race

SEATTLE -- The race for King County Executive has taken a nasty turn. Attack ads have hit the air on cable TV.

Perhaps it could have been predicted. It is, after all, crunch time; the election is now just two weeks away.

You may need a cup of coffee - or three - to stay awake at a debate between Susan Hutchison and Dow Constantine. They are generally, well, nice. They leave nastiness to so-called "independent" political organizations.

"Public health clinics going, parks closing. animal control out the door. Dow has the experience, but it's the wrong experience," says a Constantine attack ad.

"Susan Hutchison: conservative, crafty, proud to support right-wing Republicans. Look out, Sarah Palin," said an ad against Hutchison.

So, who's behind these ads?

The two candidates told KOMO News the attack ads are not part of their campaigns and were prepared and paid for by independent committees.

In Hutchison's corner is the King County Leadership Fund. She also has the backings of the Master Builders Association, as well as Cal Portland, the gravel mine people. She also has the support of well-known conservatives Kemper Freeman, Bruce McCaw and Martin Selig. She has $162,000 in all for her ads.

"Why would they spend so much to buy this election for my opponent?" Constantine said. "Two reasons: They know Susan Hutchison will do their bidding if she's elected and second, they know that I won't."

On Constantine's side is the People for Qualified Leadership. He also has the political arm of Planned Parenthood, as well as the state Council of Firefighters, three union political action committees and the liberal group, FUSE. Constantine has at least $100,000 in his ad budget.

"Well, my opponent is behind in the polls, and attack ads are used when they know they are losing," said Hutchison.

Hmm. And they call the race non-partisan.
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