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November 3, 2009 at 10:19 PM

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Constantine declares victory, but Hutchison dances on

Posted by Lynda Mapes and Jonathan Martin

UPDATE: Her party is almost over, and Hutchison is still chatting and laughing.

Told she couldn't quit her political career now, she joked, "I can't even run for dog catcher; they are getting rid of animal control."

With only about 10 people left, the cleaning crew began it's work. Hutchison then sipped from her drink and began to dance.

As Susan Hutchison's party slowly winds down, supporters are enjoying the candidate as she moved like a bride through a wedding party -- getting her picture taken with supporters, thanking and hugging volunteers. Nobody seems in much of a hurry to leave, including the candidate, who seems relaxed, even serene, as she visits with friends.

"How do you turn this up?" said a Hutchison campaign worker, sliding up the volume control on the party music.

Dino Rossi, a veteran of two brutal defeats in his campaigns for governor, watched from afar, looking every bit the man who was glad he wasn't running for anything tonight. "I'm home for dinner every night," he said. "Better them than me," he said of the candidates.

Like many, he said the county's first non-partisan race for county executive doesn't seem to have gone down that way. "The usual suspects lined up on both sides," he said.

Later, as a dark techno tune began to play, one worker dove into the DJ's chair, declaring the music "too ominous!" It was replaced with the ever-bubbly "Celebrate" by KC and the Sunshine Band. A troupe of red-shirted King County Young Republicans got into the spirit of the song, hopping on stage for a group photo. "Party Right!" their shirts read on their fronts, as some bobbed in time to the tune. They were giving celebration a good try, victory or not.

UPDATE: Over at the Edgewater, Dow Constantine waded into a crowd, where Port of Seattle Commissioner Gael Tarleton congratulated him and said, "You worked your ass off." The candidate's response: "It's gone, completely."

UPDATE: Susan Hutchison says she's not conceding tonight in the race for King County executive -- even though her opponent was declaring victory.

Speaking to an applauding crowd Hutchison said, "We have days ahead to count votes. We still have a lot of excitement yet."

Told in an earlier interview that Dow Constantine had already declared victory, she looked startled and asked, "Is that right?"

She several times blamed "attack ads" taken out in the last weeks of the campaign, and "huge dumps of money coming in, for these false, misleading ads...The partisan issues that have nothing to do with this race were confusing to people."

She said she was confident waiting is the best course. "Things have changed historically in the last five days. It is just too early to tell."

UPDATE: Dow Constantine has taken the podium to declare victory and thank opponent Susan Hutchison.

"This election was about who was in the best position, about who was best suited to lead us forward and bring real reform to King County," he told supporters. "They had a clear choice, and they have spoken loud and clear tonight."

UPDATE 8:39 P.M.: Constantine appeared headed for victory with a lead of 57percent to 43 percent. Hutchison would have to see a remarkable reversal of those results to make a comeback.

Neither Constantine nor Hutchison were immediately available, but on his Twitter feed, Constantine appeared to claim victory: "Thank you! We won."

PREVIOUS STORY: Riding a late-breaking wave of liberal support, Dow Constantine posted a commanding lead over Susan Hutchison in Tuesday’s returns for the King County executive race.

The two candidates spent a record amount in the rancorous race with Constantine hammering at Hutchison, a former TV news anchor, as an inexperienced right-winger and Hutchison bashing Constantine, a Metropolitan King County Council member, as an entrenched politician who mismanaged the county.

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