The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy, the political arm of the Seattle-King County Chamber of Commerce, held a closed-door "business leaders' luncheon" today to discuss, among other things, "Rumors and Lies: Who will run for City Council in 2015?," "Policy and political plans for 2015 district elections," and "Campaign infrastructure, candidate recruitment, communication strategy, fundraising, [and] district partnerships."
The group reportedly didn't name many specific potential candidates, but they did make it clear that they want to see the entire council get strong challengers—or, at the very least, to hold off on contributing to incumbents, who the Chamber usually supports, until they're assured the council has the chamber's back.
(That's easy to understand with socialist Kshama Sawant, a Capitol Hill resident who lives in the newly created District 3, but harder to fathom for far more business-friendly Bruce Harrell, in the new District 2, or the two Sallys, Bagshaw—who lives in the new District 7—and Clark, who has declared for one of the at-large seats).
Two names that did reportedly come up were Dave Montour, owner of West Seattle's West Five bar, for the new District 1 seat (for the seat held by incumbent Tom Rasmussen), and pot initiative leader Alison Holcomb, who has already expressed her interest in running for Sawant's District 3.
In past years, the Chamber has had trouble getting strong candidates to take the leap and run for at-large council seats that typically cost several hundred thousand dollars to win.
Proponents of districts said during last year's campaing that the new system would lower the barriers to entry for candidates, who won't have to raise as much money to run for city council. There's a flip side to that, though: It's now cheaper for deep-pocketed interest groups, like the Chamber, to influence elections. And it looks like they just might take the city up on that opportunity.