Sen. Joe Nguyen to Challenge Dow Constantine for County Exec?


State Sen. Joe Nguyen‘s (D-White Center) name is floating around as a potential challenger for King County Executive Dow Constantine this year. Really? On paper, Constantine looks pretty bulletproof and is already running for reelection. He’s won easily all three times he’s run for the office and sits on a big war chest. But Nguyen himself is proof that Constantine’s machine may not be that well-oiled. A tech-savvy progressive firebrand, Nguyen, 37, came from basically nowhere to beat Shannon Braddock, Constantine’s chosen candidate in the 2018 contest for Constantine’s old seat in the state Senate.

There’s also a trend of young candidates shouldering aside established politicians in King County. Girmay Zahilay claimed civil rights icon Larry Gossett’s King County Council seat in 2019, and David Hackney ousted longtime state Rep. Zack Hudgins in the 11th District in November. The low-key Constantine, now 58, has never faced a real challenge from the left. Also, there isn’t much downside for Nguyen, whose 34th District Senate seat isn’t up until 2022. The chief reasons for not challenging Constantine are that the newcomer might lose badly and make an enemy of Constantine and his backers. Safe to say Nguyen doesn’t really care about that.  

Paul Queary
Paul Queary
Paul Queary, a veteran AP reporter and editor, is founder of The Washington Observer, an independent newsletter on politics, government and the influence thereof in Washington State.


  1. Nguyen AND will need to differentiate himself, policy-wise, from Constantine… rather than making race and age the basis for comparison. Will either man challenge Democratic Party policy on anything – or expand Democratic policy in areas which aren’t important to the Democratic Party?

    For example, how do their policies on age discrimination, land use zoning, using a County tax to compensate landlords for the theft of their right to enforce the terms of their rental contract, levying taxes to pay for bridge repairs, or stimulating the economy…. differ?


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