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Originally published September 15, 2009 at 12:17 AM | Page modified September 24, 2009 at 4:37 PM

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Chamber group endorses Constantine, Mallahan

The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce's political arm, the Alki Foundation, endorsed Democrat Dow Constantine for King County executive over Susan Hutchison, who has tried to position herself as the more business-friendly candidate.

Seattle Times staff reporters

The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce's political arm, the Alki Foundation, endorsed Democrat Dow Constantine for King County executive over Susan Hutchison, who has tried to position herself as the more business-friendly candidate.

The Alki Foundation also recommended T-Mobile executive Joe Mallahan over lawyer and environmental activist Mike McGinn in the Seattle mayor's race. The group issued its endorsements Monday.

Alki Chairman Michael Luis said the group's county-executive decision was difficult. Constantine is "not generally perceived as a business-type" candidate, Luis acknowledged.

A Metropolitan King County Council member for the last eight years, Constantine has been blamed by opponents for some of the county's financial problems, including a projected $56 million deficit next year.

"One of the things Dow will have to show is an ability to take the bull by the horns and deal with spending," Luis said, noting that Constantine has "a lot of county employees and unions in his base of support."

Luis said the Alki group feels it knows Constantine better than Hutchison, who is campaigning as a moderate nonpartisan, and believes he could walk into the executive's job "knowing how the place works."

Hutchison, he said, "remains sort of a political unknown and just never made people totally comfortable that she was ready to take the reins of a complicated government."

"She had an opportunity to impress people," he said, "and she just didn't succeed ... ."

Luis declined to discuss details of the endorsement voting.

Alki's key issues are advancing the regional business climate, sustaining basic government services and supporting economic recovery. The group said its decisions were based on written questionnaire responses and candidate interviews. Consideration was also given to candidates' professional and community-service records.

Alki endorsed state Sen. Fred Jarrett and County Councilmember Larry Phillips in the primary election for executive. Constantine and Hutchison were interviewed a second time for the general election.

In the mayor's race, the chamber had endorsed Mayor Greg Nickels and City Councilmember Jan Drago. When neither survived the primary, the Alki Foundation was forced to choose between two relative outsiders.

McGinn, a former local Sierra Club chairman, opposes replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel. The downtown business community supports the project, as does Mallahan.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or byoung@seattletimes.com

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