Mayoral candidate state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) got the famous Ron Sims hug today.
Saying Murray had "fortitude and guts" and would join a small crew of "extemeley successful mayor's like Norm Rice and Chaley Royer," Former King County Executive Sims endorsed Murray for Seattle mayor in a small-scale coup for Murray about a month before the primary.
Sims—who was the deputy director of the department of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration for three years—considered running for mayor himself, but ended speculation in a KUOW interview last March.
A poll in March showed Sims neck and neck with Mayor Mike McGinn at 15 percent (with 34 percent undecided and Murray at 9 percent). Murray said he was excited to "get the endorsement of the leading candidate" (had Sims decided to run), adding that is was "the most significant" endorsement he'd get in this race.
Sims praised Murray as a colloborator, saying that while it's important to have a "strong-willed mayor" (an obvious reference to incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn), such leaders still "need to be able to coalesce people." He said Murray, whom he used to "clash with" (notably in 2007, when Sims came out against the controversial Roads and Transit package that Murray supported) had brought people together around important transportation issues such as light rail and the downtown tunnel (which Sims initially opposed)..
Sims, who said he "knew all the other candidates" well ("none of them are neophytes"), said the main issue that prompted him to get behind Murray was education (he did not, however, cite any specific Murray proposals related to education).
I pointed out that Murray's tenure in Olympia has been tarnished with the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision, which said the legislature had failed to adquately fund education.
Sims responded simply: "He'll be in Seattle now." (Murray added that the education funding crisis will never be adequately addressed unless the legislature passes major tax reform, including more revenue from business.)
Regarding the speculation about Sims' own mayoral bid, Sims concluded, "I realized there was a better candidate, and that's Ed Murray."
To be honest, Sims gave a bit of a rambling endorsement —talking about his own travels around the country, saying "Seattle has lost [its flash]," and offering that he wanted a "rock 'em sock 'em city." And, in a minor faux pas, Sims referred to Murray the senate majority leader. That was pretty awkward because it called attention to the fact that Murray—the supposed collaborator—had not held his caucus together. (Murray was elected majority leader late last year, but after two renegade Democrats decided to caucus with the Republicans, the Democrats lost control of the senate this session.)
The Sims endorsement comes a day after Murray was endorsed by the Washington Conservation Voters and the Seattle chamber's political lobbying group, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy. Sims said: "I love that Murray was endorsed by both evniros and business, you need both."