Hague's bid for fifth term anything but uneventful
The day of the primary, Aug. 21, Jane Hague's re-election campaign was transformed from cakewalk to contest. News came out, through a tip...
Seattle Times staff reporter
District 6Jane Hague, 61
Occupation: King County Council member
Background: Co-chairwoman, capital campaign committee, Boys & Girls Clubs of King County; King County manager of records and elections 1986-1993; Bellevue council member, 1990-1993
Top three endorsements: Alki Foundation, Affordable Housing Council, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587
Campaign Web site: www.JaneHague.com
The day of the primary, Aug. 21, Jane Hague's re-election campaign was transformed from cakewalk to contest.
News came out, through a tip, that Hague, a Metropolitan King County Council member since 1994, had been arrested on Highway 520 weeks earlier and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Now the Bellevue Republican, who has pleaded not guilty to the DUI charge, is fighting hard to keep her council seat.
Even against perennial candidate Richard Pope, who was unsuccessful in 10 previous runs for office, re-election is not a foregone conclusion.
The GOP spent $27,134 this month on ads attacking Pope, who filed his candidacy as a Democrat less than an hour before the deadline. The Bellevue lawyer has switched parties three times and been reprimanded by judges for confrontations with opposing lawyers and their clients, and for missing court deadlines.
Last week, Hague put $39,000 of her own money into the campaign.
While trying to focus on her record as a fiscal moderate with a passion for human services and the arts, Hague has had to deal with two other public-relations snafus: first her agreement to pay a fine for financial-disclosure violations by her campaign, then her admission that she had once claimed a college degree she didn't have.
Those embarrassments — and particularly the sarcastic and profane language she allegedly directed at a sheriff's deputy and a state trooper during her arrest for drunken driving — couldn't stand in sharper contrast to Hague's gracious manner on the County Council.
In public, Hague, 61, is a polite, soft-spoken, elegantly dressed centrist who works as well with Democrats as with her fellow Republicans.
Said Larry Gossett, the County Council's Democratic chairman: "This is a very professional woman who carries herself in an extremely dignified manner all the time."
Hague was King County elections manager and a Bellevue City Council member in 1993 when she defeated her City Council colleague Cary Bozeman to hand control of the County Council to the GOP. Two years later, she was elected County Council chairwoman.
Hague was a rising Republican star whose political strength on the Eastside and ability to raise campaign funds became so legendary that she ran unopposed in the next three elections.
In 2003 she started a campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee but withdrew, citing "family matters."
On the County Council, she has been known for bringing dollars to the Eastside. In 2003 she brokered a $7 million deal involving the county, the state and residents of the Finn Hill area north of Kirkland to save the 40-acre Juanita Woodlands from being sold by the state to developers.
Hague is described by observers from both parties as a good fit for a district that tends to be liberal on social issues and has voted Democratic in a number of recent countywide and statewide races. District 6 includes Kirkland, Mercer Island and most of Bellevue.
When County Executive Ron Sims was lobbying council members for his updated affirmative-action plan, she declared her support even before Sims' chief of staff, John Arthur Wilson, had a chance to extol its merits, Wilson recalled.
When Sims and the council deadlocked over the 2002 budget, Hague bypassed Republican budget chairman Rob McKenna to draft a budget with Democrat Larry Phillips.
Hague was the only Republican who voted in 2003 to require that county contractors extend dependents' benefits to domestic partners, but she stuck with her fellow Republicans in 2006 in voting against extending civil-rights protection to transgender persons.
A consistent supporter of county-funded health clinics that provide contraceptives and reproductive counseling to teens, Hague this year for the first time sought, and won, the endorsement of the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.
As a board member of several human-service groups and an advocate for social funding, "she's done some really remarkable things," said state Rep. Fred Jarrett, R-Mercer Island, "the sort of things that don't show up in the 'look-at-the-bridge-I-built,' but the sort of things that happen to one kid at a time, and the only monument to her is a kid who's not in jail or not on drugs."
In the November election, Hague supports Proposition 1, the "Roads & Transit" ballot measure, which would bring billions of dollars to the Eastside for highway widening and light rail. "We sort of view it as an ugly baby but it's the best baby we've got," she said.
Questions of character
Questions about both candidates' character have dominated the race.
An anti-harassment order was issued against Pope in 1995 after he grew angry at an opposing lawyer and the lawyer's female client during a deposition. Pope also has been in trouble with judges over missed deadlines and was removed from a case in 2006 after he told a judge he was too depressed to handle the case effectively. He says he has recovered and is ready to serve on the County Council.
For Hague, questions have centered on the drunken-driving arrest and biographies between 1986 and 2000 that falsely showed her holding a university degree.
A DUI arrest during a political campaign would be damaging to any candidate. Hague's was particularly so, even her friends say.
According to police reports, Hague had to hold on to her car to keep from falling, used foul language with a sheriff's deputy, asked if he didn't have rapists to take off the street, and told a state trooper "it was her husband's fault that she was in the back of a patrol car and being treated like a criminal." Her husband was a passenger in her car.
Hague later said didn't tell anyone about her arrest until news media reported the DUI charge the day of the primary. She was arrested under her married name, Jane Hague Springman.
It was two weeks before Hague met with reporters and publicly apologized to the arresting officers, her County Council colleagues and her constituents. She said she had had "a couple glasses" of wine at a charity auction in Seattle.
A professional evaluation showed she doesn't have a drinking problem, she said, but she vowed not to drink and drive again.
In September, Pope pointed out that published reports between 1991 and 2000 said Hague had a bachelor of science degree from Western Michigan University, but more recent reports either didn't mention her education or said only that she attended the university for four years.
Hague said she was responsible for the earlier, erroneous reports because she may not have proofread staff-written biographies closely enough. Asked about the differing versions, she angrily responded to a reporter, "Are you trying to call me a liar?"
But this month Hague said she initially inflated her résumé in 1986 when she was hired as county records and elections manager.
"This is one of the things I've been thinking about this summer," she said. "I need to be much more careful."
A complaint by Pope led to a state Public Disclosure Commission investigation of Hague's campaign-finance reporting this fall. In an agreement with the PDC last month, she acknowledged numerous violations and agreed to pay an $8,000 fine.
Hague revealed last year that $144,877 from her 2001 and 2005 council campaigns and her aborted 2004 run for Congress had been stolen by longtime campaign aide Jennifer Hildebrand. Hildebrand cooperated with investigators hired by Hague and pleaded guilty to felony theft. She was sentenced to 160 hours of community service and paid restitution of more than $200,000, including investigative costs.
Hague's response to her arrest and résumé padding have led some critics to say she has a pattern of blaming others for her mistakes.
They point to a 2001 incident in which her SUV collided with a Metro bus in downtown Seattle. She told the driver, "You know it's your fault, don't you?" according to the bus driver's report. When he asked her for her version of the accident, she reportedly responded, "Do you know that I'm your King County councilwoman?"
When several witnesses agreed with the driver that the accident was her fault, the driver reported, Hague said she was being ganged up on "to make sure that this accident would appear to be my fault."
Hague said later she was misquoted and said it was "highly interesting" that news media were told of the accident more than a month after it occurred, in an election year.
Lobbyist and developer Jamie Durkan, who has known Hague for years, said earlier her arrest wouldn't knock her out of the campaign.
"When she ran for County Council, everybody said she didn't have a shot," Durkan said. "She was running against Cary Bozeman, who was a very, very tough candidate, and she won that race. She's a fighter. She's going to fight to retain that job, and she should. She's served the district well."
Democrat Gossett has no desire to see Pope elected to the council. "I believe strongly that she would be, between the two of them, the best representative of the people in that district, despite all the problems that exist."
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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