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Last published at August 6, 2009 at 3:59 PM

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Unions' ads against Rep. Ross Hunter are unfair

An Internet ad campaign by an unusual coalition of unions is a cheesy slap in the face to a sturdy legislator, state Rep. Ross Hunter, candidate for King County executive. The unions are trying to intimidate other state lawmakers who might seek higher office

The Internet ads being run by a coalition of unions blasting state Rep. Ross Hunter, candidate for King County executive, for cuts in the state budget are outrageous. Everyone associated with them should be ashamed.

The ad campaign is designed to intimidate lawmakers involved in the state budget who seek higher office. Hunter is the House finance-committee chairman, a Democrat with an independent mind.

The message is clear to all who might make budget cuts: Don't reduce anything the Service Employees International Union, Washington State Labor Council, Washington Education Association, Sheet Metal Workers and United Food and Commercial Workers want retained.

The ads call Hunter a bad deal because he took a few votes in the Legislature unions don't like. The truth is Hunter joined numerous other Democrats making necessary, painful cuts because of a whopper budget deficit.

"It's ridiculous to attack me for being part of a Democratic legislature that made tough choices with a $9 million deficit," says Hunter. "We kept core government services and balanced the budget without raising taxes. I am not 100 percent with any group on every issue."

Of course, this is silly season in politics. Many candidates exaggerate to make points.

SEIU is particularly adept at smear campaigns as evidenced by an earlier effort against former state Rep. Helen Sommers who also dared to write responsible budgets. In that 2004 campaign, voters understood SEIU was being petulant and Sommers was the credible grown-up.

Part of the motivation against Hunter must derive from the fact that some unions back County Councilmember Dow Constantine for executive. Constantine seems least likely to deal with one of the most pernicious problems in the county budget: Deluxe health benefits for union employees.

Hunter is a smart, adept legislator. He, as well as state Sen. Fred Jarrett, would make a much better executive than Constantine. The ads, expected to expand to mailers and phone calls, are garbage.

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