Can challenger for King County Executive get late surge needed to unseat Dow Constantine?

Aug 4, 2021, 11:50 AM | Updated: Aug 6, 2021, 10:13 am
King County Executive Constantine, Joe Nguyen...
Dow Constantine and Joe Nguyen.

Despite 12-year incumbent King County Executive Dow Constantine holding a 23-point lead following the first round of election results Tuesday night, challenger Joe Nguyen remains confident in his showing early on in the primary.

First prominent challenger for King County Exec in 12 years makes case

Constantine leads Nguyen by a comfortable 53% to 30% margin in early returns, followed by Republican Bill Hirt. Even so, Nguyen points to a handful of positive takeaways leading into November’s general election. That includes the fact that up until now, Constantine has never garnered less than 60% in any primary race, and that the incumbent King County Executive has already spent 87% of his campaign funds.

Nguyen could also see the gap between him and Constantine close once more votes are tallied, given the relative tendency of King County’s more progressive voters to turn in their ballots closer to the Tuesday deadline (and therefore see their votes counted later).

Seattle saw that play out firsthand in 2019, when initial results showed Councilmember Kshama Sawant trailing challenger Egan Orion by eight points. A week later, Sawant had closed that gap and then some, going up by four points (54% to 47%), and eventually winning reelection to her District 3 seat.

Follow local primary election results

If Nguyen doesn’t see a similar surge in the coming days, though, he faces a tough path to besting Constantine in the general election. As it stands right now, he’d need to siphon a chunk of votes away from Constantine, and grab a large portion of Hirt’s 11% in the general election. Slicing off a piece of Hirt’s Republican base could also prove to be a tall order given Nguyen’s framing of his campaign as one rooted in progressive policies.

In the meantime, Nguyen has stated he believes “the people of King County are ready to build a brighter future together.”

“The support we’ve received tonight proves that people are tired of the status quo,” he opined.

Constantine issued a brief statement of his own after the first results arrived Tuesday night, stating only that he is “so pleased with our strong results,” and is “looking forward to … four more years of innovation and accomplishment at King County.”

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Can challenger for King County Executive get late surge needed to unseat Dow Constantine?