In their voting records, Metropolitan King County Council members Reagan Dunn and Steve Hammond are similar. Both are Republican incumbents...

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In their voting records, Metropolitan King County Council members Reagan Dunn and Steve Hammond are similar.

Both are Republican incumbents and have been allies in fighting the overbearing ways of the county’s Democrat-controlled council and executive. Both opposed the critical-areas ordinance and each says he is a strong voice for rural and exurban King County. But in textural ways, their differences give Reagan Dunn an important edge as they square off in the Republican primary fight to represent the newly configured 9th District. Citizens voted to reduce the County Council from 13 members to nine.

Dunn must endure the tsk-tsking speculation he’s benefiting from the political machine of his mother, former Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn. Surely, he is.

But Reagan Dunn — even his name oozes Republican pedigree — has the depth and the smarts to live up to it — not to mention the force of personality that is bound to be more influential than Hammond has been in his two years on the council.

Dunn, a former federal prosecutor, was appointed in February but already was key to the county adopting a Meth Watch program, similar to Oregon’s.

An affable former minister, Hammond’s main selling point for himself is that he lives in a rural area — and the rural areas, comprising about 40 percent of the district’s residents, need a representative. But Dunn, who lives in Bellevue, has demonstrated his affinity for rural issues, supporting legal efforts to challenge the critical-areas ordinance as “an unconstitutional land-grab by the liberal establishment in King County.” He also proposed a rural ombudsman.

The new 9th District includes more urban areas, but the whole Eastside is urbanizing, morphing into a more moderate political region.

Once rock-ribbed Republican, it now sends a few Democrats to the state Legislature. The evolving Eastside is reflected more in Dunn than in Hammond, a religious conservative who opposes abortion. While Dunn doesn’t want government money paying for abortions, he doesn’t think the government should be involved in the decision.

After the stumbles King County Executive Ron Sims has made in rural areas lately, the Eastside needs not only a dissenter but also an influential one.

Dunn is the more promising candidate.