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Credibility attack heats up King County Superior Court race
After a poor showing by King County Superior Court Judge Chris Washington in the August primary, his supporters have aggressively questioned the credibility of primary winner Sue Parisien. A former assistant state attorney general, Parisien labels the attacks "desperate."
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sue Parisien emerged from the primary election appearing to have an excellent chance of becoming a King County Superior Court judge.
Parisien, a former assistant state attorney general, won 47 percent of the August primary vote against three opponents, including the incumbent judge, Chris Washington, and was endorsed by The Seattle Times, The Stranger and one of her primary opponents.
After Washington's poor showing, his campaign has aggressively questioned Parisien's credibility. His supporters, who include several current King County judges, filed an ethics complaint against Parisien, and Washington accuses her of inflating her résumé and misrepresenting support from Gov. Chris Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna.
The campaign has been effective: The newspapers and the former primary opponent now support Washington.
A two-term incumbent who currently serves as a juvenile-court judge, Washington said Parisien has been so misleading that she might have faced state disciplinary action, had she been a sitting judge. "It's like Deceit 101," he said.
Parisien, 46, calls the attacks "a sign of a desperate campaign," and notes Washington received the lowest rating of any judge in the 2012 King County Bar Association survey. "I think voters will want to think the judiciary is above this," she said.
At issue are a 2005 job-recommendation letter Gregoire gave to Parisien and McKenna's endorsement letter for Parisien in 2007, when she sought appointment for another judicial position.
Parisien's campaign website and Facebook page quote both letters, giving what Washington said is the "misleading" impression that both now endorse Parisien. Neither has; Gregoire's former campaign spokeswoman asked Parisien to remove Gregoire's quote.
Parisien said Tuesday she was "surprised" Gregoire's quote was still on her website and Facebook page. "I asked my IT person to change that."
Still, Parisien said the letters showed Gregoire's and McKenna's high regard for her work. "I've earned them," she said.
Washington, 60, also accused Parisien of overstating her affiliation with the University of Washington School of Law. Parisien's biography in the voters pamphlet describes her as "adjunct faculty member," although she is a part-time lecturer. A UW official described it as "an honest mistake."
The former primary opponent, David Ruzumna, also switched from Parisien to Washington this week because Parisien declined to participate in ratings by Washington Women Lawyers and QLaw, the gay bar association. Both groups gave Washington high ratings.
Washington and Parisien are vying for Position 42 in King County Superior Court. The nonpartisan position pays $148,832.
Jonathan Martin: 206-464-2605 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @jmartin206.