Susan Hutchison
Susan Hutchison at a candidate forum in North Bend

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:

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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One reply on “Susan Hutchison’s absurd bashing of Maria Cantwell shows how Trumplike she’s become”

  1. Par­ty chairs his­tor­i­cal­ly rip the oppo­si­tion, but Hutchison’s remark’s are remark­ably unfit­ting for a can­di­date run­ning against a long time Senator.

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