The special session in Olympia is bad news for Democratic senate minority leader state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill). Not just because the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus members are proving to be adamant and well-disciplined opponents, but because the prolonged session is hurting Murray's chances to make it through the mayor's race primary.
Legislators are not allowed to raise money while the legislature is in session and Murray, who only represents one district in Seattle, needs cash to get his name and message out. The latest polling showed that former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck, with his iconic name (notice that he's ahead with older voters) and three successive elections to the City Council (which requires candidates to run citywide) was the leading challenger to incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn.
Murray has reported raising $123,000 with $55,000 cash on hand. And his campaign says that he raised another $103,000 in the two-week period between the regular session in Olympia and the special session, bringing his total to about $230,000.
Without seeing campaign filings (the next ones aren't due until mid June), it's hard to say how much money Murray will have on hand to spend on political advertising in the next 75 days until the August 6 primary. And, depending on when the Republicans relent (they've identified 33 must-have bills they want passed before the special session ends), that may be all the money Murray's got.
McGinn has raised $181,000 and has $100,000 cash on hand, and he's not barred from raising money. Likewise, Steinbrueck who's raised $62,153 with $37,842 on hand and Bruce Harrell, who's raised $112,559 with $55,907 on hand.
In the wake of Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess' bombshell announcement last week that he'd decided to drop out of the mayor's race, Murray is sure to pick up some new supporters (of all the candidates, Murray and Burgess had the most overlap with what I'd call the "grownup" vote, a combo of business leaders, moderate Democrats, and Democratic and non-profit interest group support). Former Burgess supporter and popular former mayor Charley Royer endorsed Murray yesterday—along with former Gov. Chris Gregoire.
However, Murray's growing momentum—he could get the 36th District Democrats endorsment tonight after getting the 36th's executive committee's recommendation earlier this week—may be for naught if he can't raise more money.
"I'm not resigning," he said. "I haven't thought of that."
Last night, in the hall at the University Heights Community Center after the 43rd District had just endorsed Murray by a wide margin, we harshed his mellow by asking him what he thought of the recent polling numbers—again, he's trailing Steinbrueck and McGinn. We also asked if he would he resign his office if the session dragged on.
"I'm not resigning," he said, "I haven't thought of that." He used the opportunity to spin the situation in Olympia: "We've never gone later than July. If the Republicans want to go someplace we've never gone before, well, that's not how you govern. You compromise and you pass a budget."
He added: "We're not going to be here on August 1." Then he paused: "Don't quote me on that."
As for the poll, which had him at 15 percent, he said: "I feel great [about those numbers]. I've never run citywide, and I've been down in Olympia."
We also asked Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill), who introduced Murray at the 43rd last night, about Murray's money problem. He laughed at the question. "He has more money than the mayor," Pedersen said. "He has enough money to do what he needs to do."