There were enough storylines at state Sen. Ed Murray's (D-43, Capitol Hill) mayoral campaign fundraiser yesterday evening on the 23rd floor penthouse apartment at the Bayvista condos in Belltown to fill a whole Fizz.
Murray, who's barred from raising money during the legislative session, is frantically raising cash during the two-week break between the regular session and the upcoming special session (which begins on Monday ... and may last well into the runup to the August 6 primary) in order to stay competitive with the other major candidates who've been raising money for months.
New reports are due today, but as of reported fundraising through March, Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess was in the lead with $190,000 raised and $86,000 on hand; McGinn had raised $153,000 with $73,000 on hand; and Murray was at $117,000 raised with $66,000 cash on hand.
1. In a campaign that's so far lacking in policy contrasts (rather than focusing on issues, to date the mayoral campaign has been about governing style, with every candidate saying incumbent Mayor McGinn is a divisive ogre), Murray staked out clear ideological ground last night: He's a regionalist.
While the move does highlight a stylistic difference with McGinn—i.e., the underlying message is that McGinn doesn't have the skill set to work across ideological and geographic divides—more significantly it set up a policy debate over vision.
McGinn has made a point of being a strong Seattle partisan: he's trying to focus Sound Transit on Seattle light rail expansion while the agency's main focus is taking the system south and north; he spent his first two years in office protesting the tunnel because he thought Seattle would end up being forced to pay state costs (McGinn famously said Seattle couldn't trust former governor Chris Gregoire); and he pushed back hard on the DOJ as they moved in to oversee the SPD, much like a cranky local sheriff in a TV drama who grouses when the fancy FBI agents show up.
Witness this: Murray was introduced to the crowd last night (after a welcoming speech by Seattle state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-36, Ballard) by suburban Seattle Rep. Cyrus Habib (D-48, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) who said he didn't like to get involved in Seattle politics, but stressed that the Eastside was "inextricably connected to Seattle." He said, as "an Eastsider," he was endorsing Murray "not just as mayor of Seattle, but as a regional leader."
Murray stuck to Seattle issues in his own speech—he said he wanted to focus on making the SPD "the best police force in the nation" and he wanted "to partner with our schools"—but he couched his to-do list in the larger theme of building bridges: "We have a great city, but I don't think we have leadership that gets how government functions," saying he wanted to "stop the divisiveness that has become city politics." He complained that "Seattle is a progressive city that should be united, but there's too much squabbling ... we don't want a mayor of [what] we shouldn't do, but a mayor to create a vision."
Republican Sen. Litzow told Fizz he was endorsing Murray for mayor: "I don't know if he wants it."
2. The regional (and bridge-building theme) was highlighted by this astounding fact: Republican state Sen. Steve Litzow (D-41, Mercer Island) was in the house. Litzow is a key leader in the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus that displaced Murray as senate majority leader this year and has been warring with Murray all session—and is gearing up for battle again as the special session fight over the budget begins.
Litzow told Fizz he was endorsing Murray for mayor ("I don't know if he wants it"). Litzow contributed $200 to Ed Murray's senate campaign fund last December, exactly the same time Murray was getting displaced by Litzow's coalition. (Murray was elected to his second term in 2010, and wouldn't be up for his senate seat again until 2014 if he ran.)
"Our fight is mostly with the house and governor," Litzow said about the coming budget battle—which ignores that fact that Murray denounced the senate budget and voted against it. But Litzow went on: "He can work with everybody," and mostly gushed about Murray's bipartisan effort to pass gay marriage last year.
3. Speaking of gay marriage, the real energy in the room, though, continued to come from Murray's signature issue: passing marriage equality legislation in 2012. Murray's rap on the SPD and schools (and also a pitch for "a livable, sustainable city") got polite applause from the 200 folks packed in to the movie-star style two-story loft, in contrast to the booming ovations that came with every mention of gay marriage, including Murray's shout-out to his legislative "partner in crime" on last year's successful marriage bill, Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill), who was also in the crowd.
Which brings us to Fizz item #3: Murray announced that he's getting married to his "partner in life" Michael Shiosaki (who was standing next to him during the speech), a few days after the primary. "We've been engaged for 22 years," Murray said.
4. Murray raised $20,000 last night, according to his campaign.
Lacey All, who's both a Starbucks exec and local chair of the Human Rights Campaign (the national gay rights group), made last night's money pitch. (All also served as the chair of last year's R-74 campaign to uphold Murray's gay marriage legislation).
Her pitch also locked into the gay rights theme, although with some ironic wit: She asked everyone to join what she and Murray are calling "The 700 Club"—a reference not only to the $700 contribution limit in the mayor's race, but also to the infamous (to gay people) Christian Broadcasting Network show, Pat Robertson's 700 Club, an incubator of the religious right movement that has stumped against gay rights since the Reagan era.
"As I look around this room," All said, "I recognize a lot of faces from the marriage campaign. And we raised $12 million for that campaign."
Also on hand at last night's event: Seattle state Sens. Kohl-Welles and David Frockt, environmental lobbyist Clifford Traisman, and former Washington Bus leader Thomas Goldstein, who has endorsed Tim Burgess (for now?).
Everyone had to take off their shoes before entering the fancy apartment.