CORRECTION BELOW: With the King County courthouse and the business community full of rumors that federal security checks and interviews by the F.B.I. were taking place for Executive Ron Sims, it looks like Sims might be headed for an important post in the Obama administration, despite his early endorsement of Hillary Clinton. One good guess is a job in the transportation field. Sims is the head of Metro and has become a national figure in his support for clean-fuel buses and demand management through variable tolling. Sims' other area of national expertise is climate change and the necessary shifts in carbon fuels. He's been spending lots of time in the past year speaking to national forums.
Concerning transportation, Obama has said, "We will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s." Observers expect the new administration to put transportation at the center of its economic recovery programs, linking the spending to energy independence and environmental protection.
If Sims is tapped, a lot of local political dominoes will start toppling. Names already circulating to replace him as county executive (up for election in 2009) are King County Councilmembers Larry Phillips (already an unannounced candidate), Dow Constantine, Julia Patterson, and Bob Ferguson.
CORRECTION: In the event of a vacancy, county Democratic precinct chairs formerly would submit three names for the County Council to pick from; but now that the county offices have been rendered non partisan, apparently the old way is replaced by one where the council, not just Democrats, picks the replacement on its own. That would seem to favor the candidate best able to appeal (or deal) across the aisle.
A quick exit by Sims would also complicate the Alaska Way Viaduct politics, since Sims, Mayor Greg Nickels, and Gov. Gregoire are supposed to choose their preferred version by Dec. 31. Would Sims' choice (likely for the surface option) stick if he leaves?