Ron versus nobody

Quick quiz: Name the Republican politician who challenged King County Executive Ron Sims in 1997.

Don't remember? Yet, once again, The Seattle Times editorial page is pushing for a Republican sacrificial lamb to take the well-traveled road to political obscurity by challenging the popular Democrat. Don't count on getting the Times' endorsement come November: The paper makes it clear that the incumbent "is a very strong executive." And, if past experience holds true, the best any Sims challenger can expect from the Seattle dailies are horse race stories filled with such phrases as "quixotic battle" and "lousy campaign."

Running against as popular an incumbent as Ron Sims is a no-win proposition. Theoretically, the race could raise your profile as a politician, but in reality the likely 2-to-1 drubbing would instead label you as a loser. A challenger with such dim prospects is unlikely to draw much state party support (that money goes to races they can win), and every dollar you raise from your friends and allies is a buck down the tubes.

The Republican party bosses have tried desperately to recruit Sheriff Dave Reichert or County Council member Rob McKenna to take one for the team, but both have wisely declined. They're probably doing the party a favor: either would be a good candidate for the open seat when Sims moves on to bigger and better things. And given the Republicans' awful ability to field statewide candidates, they can't afford to sacrifice either up-and-comer to this lose-lose situation.

Incidentally, now that you've all racked your brains for the answer, Sims' 1997 opponent was State Rep. Suzette Cooke from Kent, who despite running for King County exec is still not a household name.

Charlie: Four more years?

Is former City Council member Charlie Chong really planning to jump into the mayor's race?

Well, maybe. After spilling the beans to Seattle Post-Intelligencer scribe Kery Murakami last month that a "Chong in '01" race wasn't out of the question, the would-be challenger to Mayor Paul Schell has kept things low-key. Chong now says he'll wait until more challengers enter the fray, but "if I can't stomach what's in there, I might just jump in." On the short list of things Charlie can't stomach: Schell, County Council member Greg Nickels, and City Attorney Mark Sidran.

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