The death of King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng has created an open seat in that job for the first time in many years.

The death of King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng has created an open seat in that job for the first time in many years. The first round to replace the Republican Maleng is the primary election Aug. 21. It will select the Democratic nominee to take on Interim Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, a Republican, in filling the remaining three years of Maleng’s term. In the primary contest, The Times endorses Deputy Prosecutor Bill Sherman, the stronger of two solid Democratic candidates.

Sherman has worked in the prosecutor’s office since 2003. He was a deputy prosecuting attorney in its Domestic Violence Unit before going on leave to conduct his campaign. He has prosecuted sexual-assault cases, gun crimes and juvenile crimes, and says he will focus attention on repeat offenders involved in drugs or domestic violence, will overhaul the fraud division and expand the offerings under victims’ services.

Sherman is smart and well-spoken, though in a race among lawyers to become King County’s top prosecutor, being well-spoken is expected.

Sherman’s opponent, Keith Scully, attorney for the environmental group Futurewise, certainly has that attribute. Scully has served in the prosecutor’s office, has been a war-crimes prosecutor in Yugoslavia, has been in private practice and is a good, credible candidate.

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Sherman, 39, has worked in the Clinton administration, clerked for federal judges, also has been in private practice and is $100,000 ahead of Scully in campaign funds, according to the most recent Public Disclosure Commission filings.

Sherman has run for office before, in the six-way Democratic primary last year to represent the 43rd District as a state representative. Though he lost then, he has vacuumed up top-ranking Democratic endorsements for prosecutor, and looks to be the candidate to carry his party’s banner against Satterberg, who was Maleng’s chief of staff for 17 years and has no opposition within the GOP.