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Last year voters in King County Washington (aka Seattle and surroundings) were faced with a charter amendment making all county races nonpartisan. Liberals like me, sick of elected who cared more about the party than the people, voted for it in droves, and it passed. I thought—dimwit that I am—that people would be forced to vote on issues rather than tribal loyalties. Turns out the whole thing was a right wing ploy that is being propagated across the country.

It is only in liberal districts, where an "R" after your name on the ballot has become a badge of shame, that these lovely populist initiatives are springing up. (King County is one of the most liberal places in the country.) The ploy was so transparent in one North Carolina municipality that the Justice Department refused to approve the move to "nonpartisan" appointments. Then the Right countered by crowing that Blacks were too stupid to vote without partisan labels. Maybe we’re all too stupid to vote without labels.

In King County, as soon as the initiative passed, the same people who funded the initiative put up a stealth Religious Rightcandidate for county exec. Susan Hutchison (aka Washington State's Sarah Palin) was on the board of the creationist Discovery Institute for ten years. She has a multi-year relationship with the Washington Policy Center, a haven for free market fundamentalists. (At their recent gala she stood up and crowed about reagonomist Steve Moore who then crowed about Fox News and teabagging.) She gave money to Mike Huckabee over John McCain. At a governor’s prayer breakfast before she announced her candidacy, she exhorted electeds to use their bully pulpit to trumpet their faith. AAAND It looks like she is may win in a county that is wildly at odds with her values.

So who duped me? The campaign to make races nonpartisan was kicked off by a guy named George Rowley who spent 70k of his money to sucker us. He was joined by two wireless magnates – Bruce McCaw and John Stanton. Together Stanton and Rowley provided $313,000, over 80% of the money spent by—get this—"Citizens for Independent Government." Gee. I’m a citizen for independent government. . .

The Hutchison campaign just happens to be run out of a house owned by McCaw’s company. And low and behold, he and his wife have put almost 30K into her campaign and attack ads against her progressive Democrat opponent, Dow Constantine. Stanton and his wife are in for 3,200 to Hutchison, and it looks like George Rowley, through a group called Eastside Business Alliance, is in for another 28k give or take.

Here’s the kick in the gut. Because the race is "non-partisan" and Susan Hutchison calls herself a "non-partisan" and a "moderate" the local papers refuse to call her out for the Religious Right mainliner that she actually is. Her whole campaign strategy has been to be a tabula rasa onto which voters could project their desires for a fresh face and a new approach. (Since Dems were in power in King County when the economy crashed, they were responsible, don’t ya know.) Funny, snotty renegade media is finally kicking in to spread the word about the Palin wannabe who is inches away from the County Exec seat., here, here, and here—don’t miss the last 5 sec on the kid one and the elephant one.) But it may be too late. Why didn’t I clue in when Republican candidate for governor Dino Rossi refused to put Republican as his party last year?!

Spread the word. This slimy ploy is coming to a liberal locality near you!

Originally posted to Valerie Tarico on Tue Oct 27, 2009 at 03:10 PM PDT.

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