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.