Ross Hunter, Racism, and KING 5

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Ross Hunter is running for King County Executive. A few years ago his campaign for the 48th legislative district sent out a flyer against a Republican candidate for the same seat, James Whitfield. The front of the flyer showed a moving van in a nice suburban neighborhood, with the text, "He moved here last year ... Unfortunately he brought too much baggage." The reverse showed a picture of Whitfield, who is black.

The racial overtones may not have been intentional -- Hunter denied it -- but they are obvious to many people, and there can be no doubt that if Whitfield were a Democrat and Hunter a Republican, it would have ended Hunter's political career and damaged the entire Republican Party in this state.

I say this not to dredge up the past, and not even because it is something that many voters might want to be reminded of so they can take it into consideration -- although it probably is -- but because Allen Schauffler, the new host of King 5 Up Front, mentioned yesterday that he got all of this information in the mail. Without noting that Ross Hunter's campaign sent the flyer or any other specifics (except for the fact that it happened in 2004, and involves a candidate running for executive today), he noted that the anonymous person who sent it to him was "not brave enough to identify themselves, who was hoping to an inject an old and divisive issue into the current campaign." He added, "thanks for the offer: we decline."

But "divisive" statements of the past are often brought up in campaigns in the present. If Hunter had come out and said, "we don't want a black person representing us" in 2004, surely that would be brought up today. So what is Schauffler's problem? Is it just a Northwest thing: we don't like controversy and dirt, and avoid it as much as possible? Or is it a campaign thing? We know that much of the media around here lets candidates say pretty much anything they want to during campaigns without repercussion. Or is it that he has limited time and tries to stick more to the issues? Or is he really that offended by anonymity? Does party affiliation have anything to do with it for him, as it does with many other people? Maybe it's just the fact that we can't know what the motivations are, so why bother bringing it up again?

I don't know.

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