It looks like a good night for the moderates in Seattle, though the city’s vote-by-mail system means all the votes won’t be counted for several more days (because many were just dropped in the mail yesterday). In the past, progressives have tended to make up election-day deficits as large as 10-12 points as later vote tallies are added. That’s because older, more conservative voters tend to be overrepresented in the initial tally. But in this case the gaps are so large that overcoming them looks unlikely. Anyway, with that caveat out of the way, here’s how things look as of this morning.
The first round of Seattle and King County election results arrived Tuesday, with moderate and conservative candidates largely carrying the night.
Early results saw Bruce Harrell, Ann Davison, and Sara Nelson all jump out to sizable early leads, opening up margins of 30 points, 17 points, and 21 points, respectively, over their more progressive challengers.
Taking these in order, Bruce Harrell will succeed current Mayor Jenny Durkan who decided not to seek reelection last year in the wake of the CHAZ/CHOP disaster and battles with the City Council over the police budget. He defeated Lorena González who was the president of the City Council Durkan had sparred with. González was a supporter of defunding the police by 50% though the actual cuts made by the Council last year only amounted to about 20 percent. Harrell, by contrast, does not support defunding. Both candidates support more efforts to deal with Seattle’s homelessness problem but Harrell made a point of saying, in a recent interview, that he doesn’t want to demonize residents who want parks and neighborhoods cleaned up because “they deserve that.”
Next up, the result I was most excited about last night was the race for City Attorney. Outgoing City Attorney Pete Holmes was terrible at his job and the city clearly needed a fresh approach. The good news was that he came in third in the primary which meant he was not in the running for a 4th term. The bad news was that one of the candidates to replace him, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, was even more extreme that he was.
As I noted here, Thomas-Kennedy cheered on Antifa all last year, including when they set buildings on fire. When someone set off an explosive device outside a police station the blew an 8″ hole in plywood protecting the site, she tweeted that the person responsible was a “hero.” She tweeted to the Seattle PD that cops should “Eat some covid laced sh*t & quit your jobs.” Not surprisingly, Thomas-Kennedy ran as a police and prison abolitionist who promised fewer prosecutions of misdemeanor crimes if elected.
As extreme as she was, Thomas-Kennedy had a real shot at winning the race, in part because local Democrats endorsed her and in part because her opponent Ann Davison was a Republican. Winning as a Republican in Seattle is not easy to do. Fortunately, Davison was endorsed by the Seattle Times and by former Washington Governors Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke. She promised to restore a sense of safety to the city if elected. And, as of now, it looks like she has pulled it off.
On Election Night, the crowd surrounding Ann Davison erupted in jubilation, as the early results showed Davison leading her opponent Nicole Thomas-Kennedy.
“Heartwarming and humbling the number of votes that have come in,” said Davison.
Davison said there are too many people from every walk of life—who feel unsafe in Seattle with random attacks, drug proliferation, getting their cars broken into, or businesses getting shoplifted.
Davison wants a handle on that street crime and homeless camps whether it’s by prosecution or compassion.
“There is a way to have a balanced approach that we are providing a way to intervene with someone and to make sure we are centering victims of crime and collectively bringing together what is public safety in our city,” Davison said.
The race could get very close, but with a 17% lead it looks likely Davison will be able to hang on.
The last of the three races mentioned above had Sara Nelson running against Nikkita Oliver for a position on the City Council that was left vacant by the aforementioned Lorena González when she decided to run for mayor. The differences between Oliver (who uses they/them pronouns) and Nelson, couldn’t be more stark:
A resident of Rainier Beach and a former mayoral candidate, Oliver, 35, advocated ending restrictions on apartments in single-family neighborhoods throughout Seattle. Oliver also called for finding new revenue, like a possible city income tax, to create housing for homeless people while providing those in encampments with services like hygiene stations. Oliver also has pushed to defund police by 50%.
Nelson, 55, co-founder of Fremont Brewing and a onetime aide to former City Councilmember Richard Conlin, argued the council is on the wrong path, diverted from providing basic services by left-wing movement building.
Living in Green Lake and running for the council for the second time, Nelson promoted helping small businesses recover from the pandemic, gradually increasing density in single-family neighborhoods and removing homeless encampments in public spaces with a phased approach. She said she wanted a plan, more accountability and better data on homelessness before committing to new revenue. She also opposed defunding police.
Do you see the pattern? All of the candidates pushing for more police defunding lost to candidates with a more moderate approach. Given that the city has already lost 250 officers and seen a dramatic increase in shootings (drive-by shootings are up 100% this year) this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but in Seattle you never know.
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