A PubliCola public records request shows that Team McGinn fretted over where to hide the mayor on tunnel election night.

Looking for what might have happened in an alternate universe, I did a public records request to Mayor Mike McGinn's office to see the draft statements he had prepped for the big tunnel vote.

After the tunnel won, it took the mayor more than two hours to issue this brief statement:

"I worked to give the public a direct vote on the tunnel. The public said move ahead with the tunnel, and that's what we're going to do."

I wanted to know what McGinn would have said if he got his way and the tunnel had lost. Would he have gloated? Would he have been diplomatic? It turns out, and this may not be so surprising, he hadn't prepped anything at all. [pullquote]We need to lock down where the mayor would like to be tomorrow so that he isn't being stalked by the media. Assuming a TV final deadline of 10:45pm I'm thinking dinner and a movie.[/pullquote]

The email and internal memo chain his office handed over to me only dates back to the late afternoon of August 15, just 24 hours before election night. (I asked for all material dating back to July 1). The only prepped statement, with slight variations (one beginning, somewhat defensively, "It's no secret that I worked hard to give the public the opportunity to vote..."), is the one McGinn ultimately issued.

McGinn's communications director, Beth Hester, did briefly consider the possibility that Ref. 1 might lose. No surprise, the mayor's game plan was to corner the council over the tunnel issue, something the McGinn squad spent the first year and a half in office doing.

In an email on Monday night before the election, Hester wrote: "If it fails I would kill for some intel on how quickly council will move, if they do. While they have stated the vote means nothing, a failed Ref does mean something politically."

She goes on to suggest: "One argument is to add 'I said I would follow the vote of the people, the question now is whether or not the council will do the same.' as a preemptive move to add a little pressure on them."

McGinn communications adviser Robert Cruickshank also briefly considered how to play a McGinn win: "In case Ref 1 fails, could lob it back to Council," he writes. "Or it could direct people to the campaign [Protect Seattle Now] and put them a the center of a victory."

One interesting note here: McGinn's team seemed well aware that the tunnel was going to win.

On that note, McGinn's advisers seemed intent on having the mayor MIA. In a Monday night email, Hester wrote to McGinn and his media team:
We need to lock down where the mayor would like to be tomorrow so that he isn't being stalked by the media. Assuming a TV final deadline of 10:45pm I'm thinking dinner and a movie. Lots I haven't seen and am happy to hang out if that is helpful. Mariners is good but I'm concerned won't go long enough.

I know McGinn has had some complaints about the hyperventilating media (remember when KOMO TV showed up at his house regarding his appointment of controversial bike activist David Hiller), but "Stalked by the media?"

Ref. 1 was a major vote that was largely orchestrated by the McGinn. Of course the media (and public) would want his perspective on election night. [pullquote]It's about the tunnel...Go fucking cover the tunnel.[/pullquote]

Indeed, McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus warned his colleagues that the press was expecting access to the mayor that night, especially because other politicians—such as the council —that were involved in the interminable standoff were making themselves available. (Those council members, incidentally, included McGinn's fellow tunnel opponent Mike O'Brien, who was front and center at the anti-tunnel party---and in the media coverage about the vote).

Noting the other officials' availability on election night, Pickus wrote in a Monday night email:

"I just got off the phone with [Beth Kaiman at the Seattle Times]. Her issue is that they know where everybody else—Exec, Gov, [state transportation secretary Paula] Hammond, Councilmembers—is going to be for reactions to the vote. They just don't know where the mayor is going to be. [I] spoke about how this vote is really about the public's opinion, not the mayor. It didn't take."

McGinn's chief of staff Julie McCoy had no patience for the press. She jumped into the email thread:
They can wait. The should cover the damn story by going to election night event or whatever they want to do...not get coopted by [Let's Move Forward's] messaging that this about McGinn because it isn't. It's about the tunnel...

Go fucking cover the tunnel.