Nikkita Oliver gained some ground on Friday, when more votes shortened the difference between her and Cary Moon from a 2,578- to a 2,235-vote margin. She's now 1.3 percentage points away—but with the vast majority of votes already counted, it's a slim chance Oliver could secure that second-place seat for the November general election.
There are about 14,000 ballots left to count in Seattle. Oliver's supporters are tracking down their ballots to make sure their votes were counted. Her campaign said those who make small mistakes on their ballots—like leaving signatures off their ballot or making them ineligible—are often first-time and inconsistent voters, as well as people with language barriers, and the Peoples Party is setting up volunteer hours in stations around the city for its "ballot-chasing efforts." Moon in turn said she's encouraging her supporters to help Oliver's campaign in their efforts.
Oliver in a released statement Friday said it was a "natural extension" of the movement they started for the primary election.
"Just because election day has come and gone, doesn't mean that the process is over," Oliver said. "Centering marginalized voices starts with making sure that they are heard. These are people trying to participate in the political process, and this campaign and the Seattle Peoples Party will work until the final bell to ensure that they are counted regardless of who they intend to vote for.”
Moon again didn't declare victory on Friday. In a released statement she again said she was proud that the majority of the city didn't vote for the "establishment's candidate"; she wanted to build a strong progressive coalition, she said, and included a sign up form to contact voters whose ballots have been contested.
"OIiver's campaign has mobilized and inspired thousands of people. Rushing forward to claim a decisive outcome while some ballots are in limbo would only create distrust," Moon said. "Whichever of us makes it through to the general election this fall, I can guarantee she will stand up to big corporate interests and lead for a better Seattle."
King County Elections chief of staff Kendall Le Van Hodson told PubliCola about 2,000 signatures are being challenged in Seattle, 4,000 signatures countywide; typically 60 percent of those get resolved, more in competitive races.
Side note: Moon is also facing criticisms from some Oliver supporters that she wouldn't just step aside; one wrote a letter published in The Stranger on Friday. But Hodson said Moon wouldn't be able to simply drop out. In fact it's impossible to leave her name off the ballot at this point if she were to secure that second-place seat, even if she wanted to step aside for Oliver. It would require a court order, and the deadline for the court order passed. And Oliver can't run as a write-in candidate in the general election if she lost in the primary.
It's worth noting this sentiment has existed from the very beginning when Moon entered the race. At the time, she was the only high-profile candidate besides Oliver, and faced criticisms that she would run against a woman of color. And this criticism existed against Moon even when Mike McGinn entered the race shortly afterward—I can only guess, because the assumption is that another woman running would take away votes from Oliver. (McGinn and Moon actually had a lot more in common as candidates—both known for their efforts against the SR 99 tunneling project, both self-proclaimed urbanists and public transit advocates.)
This question Moon faced multiple times during her first virtual town hall and interviews ("Why did you decide to run against Nikkita Oliver?") began to fade as more high-profile candidates, and more women, ran.
Though they're both far-left progressives who oppose Durkan, Moon and Oliver are still very different candidates with different strengths and appeals; Moon's supporters deserve to be heard too, and it would be presumptuous to assume they would be just as happy with Oliver. Moon declined to comment on Friday on that request to step aside. But here's what she told PubliCola back in April on why she became a candidate in the first place against Oliver. Some of it is still relevant today:
"She's brilliant and every time she speaks I'm sort of knocked flat by her wisdom and her perspective and her vision. That said—I really want to honor the space and the movement that she’s creating—but I also feel like there’s room for two strong female voices in this race, and I look forward to offering different perspectives and different proposals for the future of our city, and building this kind of creative dialogue and political courage we need to take on these big challenges."