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September 11, 2007

Is justice itself at stake in prosecutor's race?

Posted by David Postman at 8:14 AM

Acting King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, a Republican, sent out a press release Monday touting endorsements from prominent Democrats in his race against Democrat Bill Sherman.

The Democrats are endorsing Satterberg because of his 17 years of experience as Norm Maleng's chief of staff and his commitment to continue to run the office in a nonpolitical, professional manner.

Satterberg has relied heavily on the Maleng legacy of non-partisan management of the prosecutor's office. He told me:

"There should be one office where partisanship doesn't rule the day and it ought to be this one."

But the Republican Party sees the race differently. A fundraising letter from King County GOP Chairman Michael Young calls the late Maleng a "committed Republican" who had helped keep the office in GOP hands for 60 years. And he says much more than just party control is at stake in the race:

Now is not the time to surrender this office to an extreme fringe liberal who is incapable of administering justice for all King County residents.

The letter also talks about the need to re-elect King County Councilwoman Jane Hague. But defending Satterberg's seat, the last Republican in a county-wide office, is paramount. Young says in the letter he has "never felt more passionate about defending a seat in county government as I do this one."

It is crucial that we maintain control of the Prosecutor's office. If we do not, justice will not be served to the citizens of our county. Folks, there is a reason Republicans have been elected to pursue justice in this county for six decades running, and it is up to us to remind voters why.

So what does Satterberg think of Young's attack on Sherman? In many ways Young's letter seems to be precisely the sort of partisanship that Satterberg says has no place in the prosecutor's office. I asked him about it this morning.

"I'm happy to have help of anyone that wants to help me. But I don't agree that justice would come to a grinding halt in King County. I just think I'd do a better job."

Satterberg said he didn't see the letter until it arrived in the mail. But he has no objections. He says Young is doing what he needs to do to raise money for the county party. It's clearly a different approach than Satterberg takes in his public campaigning, where he focuses on his years of experience in the office and continuing Maleng's non-partisan ways.

"Those other labels and stuff, that's what party chairmen do. ... You have to raise money for your party in the way you think gets some sense of urgency in the troops."

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