Nine years ago, when Susan Hutchison was running for King County Executive, she did her best to portray herself as a reasonable Republican capable of governing Washington’s largest jurisdiction. Notably, the former KIRO 7 anchor took positions opposing Tim Eyman’s job-killing I‑1033 and supporting an “Approve” vote on the state’s everything-but-marriage law, which expanded civil unions.
She didn’t win, but she certainly made an effort to pitch herself to Democratic-leaning and biconceptual voters during that campaign, even securing the endorsements of Democratic officeholders Brad Owen and Brian Sonntag.
Since being routed by current King County Executive Dow Constantine (who won a third term last autumn with token opposition), Hutchison has dropped any pretense of being a reasonable, respectable, likable Republican in the mold of Dan Evans or John Spellman. As the Chair of the Washington State Republican Party, she fully embraced Donald Trump’s racist, xenophobic candidacy, even lashing out at Ted Cruz when he balked at falling in line during the RNC in 2016.
Now, three months after turning over the chairmanship to her deputy Caleb Heimlich, Hutchison has stepped back into the spotlight as a candidate for the United States Senate against Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell. With less than two hours to go before the close of filing, Hutchison jumped into the race, easily becoming the most recognizable Republican in the thirty candidate field.
Although she did not bother to put up a website or even a tweet announcing her candidacy, she promptly granted interviews to The Seattle Times and KING 5 News, in which she harshly bashed Senator Maria Cantwell while neglecting to lay out any policy positions or priorities for the country. As reported by Jim Brunner:
“I have just been watching the situation and I think that a sitting senator who is known for doing nothing for us does not deserve a fourth term,” Hutchison said in an interview. “She is a fake senator. She is a ghost in the state and in the Senate.”
Hutchison called Cantwell “a leader of the left-wing elite that are destroying our state,” tying her to liberal Seattle politics, such as the city’s recently passed “head tax” on larger businesses.
Asked about what federal issues she disagreed with Cantwell on, Hutchison returned again to Seattle politics, saying, “Seattle is a symbol of the left-wing elite” and that she would put out issue papers on “a lot of different subjects.”
It’s pretty evident from this interview and the KING5 interview that Hutchison intends to be a candidate in the mold of Donald Trump, her idol. That means we can expect a campaign consisting of outrageous lies and derogatory insults.
That is not the kind of campaign that Washingtonians expect or deserve.
Hutchison’s opening attacks on Cantwell are not only demonstrably false, but laughably inconsistent. How can Cantwell be “destroying our state” if she is a “fake” and a “ghost” who is “doing nothing for us” — as Hutchison also says?
It appears that Hutchison now aspires to do what Trump did — get elected to high office despite never previously having held office using bluster, bravado, and innuendo. But Donald Trump did not win in Washington in 2016, nor did the Republican Party’s candidates for governor or U.S. Senator, despite Hutchison’s claims that Republicans would be competitive in the state.
And last year, under Hutchison, the Washington State Republican Party lost big again when Democratic rising star Manka Dhingra handily defeated Jinyoung Lee Englund in the 45th Legislative District, destroying a five-year Republican majority in the Washington State Senate. Within weeks of that loss, Hutchison had resigned her post. Now she’s signing up for another fight she seems destined to lose.
If Hutchison truly believes that Maria Cantwell is a fake and a ghost who hasn’t done anything for Washington State, then she is an ignoramus. I know of few elected leaders who work harder for their constituents than Maria Cantwell. She is committed to providing excellent representation for every community in Washington, and she proves it every day through her actions.
It is Senator Cantwell that we have to thank for the construction of a new coastal radar on Langley Hill near Westport in Grays Harbor County, which has been a massive boon to weather forecasting in Washington State.
It is Senator Cantwell we have to thank for getting more bomb-sniffing dog teams in place at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is rapidly becoming one of the nation’s busiest airports, to cut down on security checkpoint wait times.
It is Senator Cantwell we have to thank for the introduction of the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education, and Safety (CARES) Act, which her office says would hold opioid manufacturers accountable for aggressive and misleading advertising, negligent distribution practices. The bill has been endorsed by thirty-nine Attorneys General, including Republicans as well as Democrats.
It is Senator Cantwell we have to thank for the passage of S. 346, the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act, which she cosponsored. Cantwell says the bill — prime sponsored by Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and cosponsored by Mazie Hirono of Hawaii — will improve the nation’s volcano monitoring and early warning capabilities and strengthen existing monitoring systems, including the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Washington and Oregon.
It is Senator Cantwell that we have to thank for the downfall of SOPA and PIPA, two horrible anti-Internet bills that the MPAA was trying to jam through Congress several years ago. Along with Ron Wyden of Oregon, Cantwell was among the first to declare her opposition to the infamous aforementioned bills that led to an unprecedented blackout by major websites in January of 2012.
It is Senator Cantwell that we have to thank for the Senate’s recent vote in favor of Net Neutrality. Cantwell, a recognized expert and leader on technology issues, worked with colleagues like Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley to secure the necessary votes to pass the resolution repudiating Ajit Pai’s FCC for abolishing the landmark Open Internet Order of 2015. Cantwell delivered one of the most substantive speeches in favor of Internet freedom during the debate over the resolution.
It is Senator Cantwell we have to thank for watchdogging the problems caused by unchecked media consolidation and anticompetitive mergers — a set of issues that very few elected leaders choose to educate themselves about or work on. Except for New Mexico’s Tom Udall, no U.S. Senator keeps a closer eye on the shenanigans currently going on at Ajit Pai’s FCC than Maria Cantwell.
She doesn’t let up, as we can see from these news releases:
- April 12, 2018: Cantwell, Udall Lead Colleagues in Call for FCC to Investigate Sinclair Broadcasting for News Distortion
- January 4, 2018: Cantwell, Colleagues Urge Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission to Closely Scrutinize Media Mergers, Particularly, the Proposed Sinclair Broadcasting/Tribune Media Merger
- November 15, 2017: Led by Cantwell & Udall, Senators Call for Impartial Investigation into Potential Quid Pro Quo between Chairman Ajit Pai, Trump Administration, and Sinclair Broadcasting
- June 21, 2017: Cantwell Joins Coalition of Senators Pressuring Justice Department to Reject AT&T‑Time Warner Merger if Harms to Consumers Outweigh Benefits
- June 5, 2017: Cantwell Leads Democratic Senators in Call for Scrutiny of Sinclair-Tribune Broadcasting Deal, Senate Hearings
- January 25, 2017: Cantwell and Colleagues Pressure AT&T & Time Warner to Prove Mega-Merger is in Public Interest
It is Senator Cantwell we have to thank for protecting the Arctic Refuge from being destroyed by greedy oil profiteers. When the Bush administration tried to open the Refuge to drilling in 2005, Cantwell successfully led a filibuster that kept the oil rigs out. Sadly, the Republicans got a provision in the Trump tax scam bill that opens the Refuge to drilling, but the battle to protect the Refuge isn’t over.
It is Senator Cantwell we have to thank for going to bat for Snohomish County ratepayers before, during, and after the Enron scandal. Senator Cantwell exposed how Enron traders schemed to make money at Washingtonians’ expense.
It is Senator Cantwell we have to thank for organizing elected leaders in our region in opposition to plots by the Bush administration and the Trump regime to privatize the Bonneville Power Administration — a disastrous idea that would jack up electricity rates for people and businesses all over the Northwest.
And it is Senator Cantwell we have to thank for an incredibly long list of investments in essential public services like mass transit, affordable housing, and firefighting in the omnibus appropriations bill adopted by Congress earlier this spring, along with the expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).
Thanks to Senator Cantwell, we got an appropriations bill that:
- Provides major increase in wildfire fighting funding
- Provides major increase in opioid and mental health funding
- Provides two years of funding for Secure Rural Schools
- Bolsters federal cybersecurity efforts to block Russian hacking
- Increases funding for airport improvement program
- Increases funding for freight and transportation infrastructure
- Boosts rural broadband development
- Saves Land and Water Conservation Fund and increased funding
- Protects the EPA from a 30% cut
- Prioritizes Hanford Funding
- Accelerates new icebreaker
- Increases medical research funding
- Closes loopholes in federal firearms background checks
- Remedies retirement pay gap for Coast Guard members
Affordable housing advocates know that Senator Cantwell is a champion that we can count on. Cantwell has worked tirelessly to find money to house our nation’s people and our state’s people. She is incredibly persistent. (One of the projects she got funded will be built right here in Redmond, NPI’s headquarters and hometown.)
This list could go on, and on, and on.
Point is, Senator Cantwell has represented Washington for nearly eighteen years with distinction. She cares about every community in the Evergreen State, which is why she visits all thirty-nine counties when she campaigns for reelection.
Even Republicans should be able to appreciate how hard she has worked for Washingtonians. And I have no doubt that many Republican mayors, city councilmembers, and county commissioners quietly do.
But Susan Hutchison? If you ask me, she has no honor. She is not qualified for this important position. She is not a worthy opponent for Maria Cantwell.
She has chosen to launch her campaign — if it can be even be called that — by trying to project herself onto her opponent using Trumpian style attacks.
So much for civility. Susan Hutchison makes Mike McGavick look like a saint.
Fake, ghost, and do-nothing wannabe officeholder are all phrases that could describe Hutchison quite well. As a former party chair, she knows how to serve red meat to her base. The Trump-loving Republican faithful will be happy to support Hutchison’s Senate bid — but they are not a majority in Washington State.