Afternoon Jolt

Today's loser: Tim Burgess

It's official: State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43) is running for mayor. Although his purpose this afternoon at Capitol Hill event space Sole Repair was ostensibly to announce that he was forming an "exploratory committee" to decide whether to run, the event—from the ubiquitous blue-and-yellow "Ed Murray for Mayor" signs, to the room packed with eager, loudly cheering supporters—was a coming-out party for a man who will certainly be a formidable challenger to Mayor Mike McGinn. 

Murray's exuberent announcement, which he made with his partner Michael Shiosaki at his side, contrasted dramatically with city council member Tim Burgess' semi-embargoed non-announcement, which Burgess botched by promising an exclusive to the Stranger and then telling every reporter in town.

(Adding to his clunky start, Burgess also reported a $1,000 debt to consultant Christian Sinderman, who subsequently told PubliCola he has made no commitments in the mayor's race.)

The biggest contrast, though, was the fact that Burgess didn't even have an event. Instead, he made what he called a "soft announcement" through the press, granting phone interviews on the day he filed his campaign papers.

Juxtapose that with Murray's announcement today, where he stood in front of a phalanx of TV cameras and reporters, comfortably fielding questions from the press about police accountability and density in an off-the-cuff, engaging style focusing on his record of "getting things done" and "building bridges."

Riffing off the recent election of lesbian Tammy Baldwin to the US Senate, Murray said he wasn't running to make history (as the first gay mayor of Seattle), but rather to get work done.

Murray said his campaign would focus on improving the city's education system ("We need to make sure that our students have the highest graduation rate of any city" in the US); improving police accountability, possibly by replacing current police chief John Diaz ("No decision is more important that a mayor makes than who they choose as police chief"); and increasing density while ensuring that Seattle is welcoming to families and affordable to "people who work in our school system."

For PubliCola's extensive interview with Murray, go here.

"This city has given me much," Murray said—including a school system that helped him through difficulties learning to read—"and I hope that this effort will be about me giving back."

However, Murray noted that he faces challenges.

First, only one state legislator, Wes Uhlman, has ever been elected Seattle mayor (1969-1978). He joked that he would "disappear"for three months in Olympia while others would be campaigning, noting that he was committed to his job as a legislator and, recenlty, as Democratic caucus leader.

Murray is subject to a fundraising freeze starting on December 15, and won't be able to raise any money until the end of the legislative session, in April or later.

"I can assure you that by the time this session is finished, I will be behind [my opponents] in fundraising," Murray said. "I have literally ten days to raise money."

Murray said McGinn has invited him to attend the gay-marriage festivities at City Hall on December 9, but added, coolly, that he and Shiosaki "haven't looked at our calendars yet."