Campaign Fizz: Long Shots, Low Turnout, and Lagging Donations

By Erica C. Barnett August 11, 2011

Your one-stop shop for today's local campaign news, gossip, and analysis.

• King County Elections tells PubliCola their office has received about 180,000 ballots so far, less than a third of the 566,000 ballots the elections office expects to come in by election day. The office is projecting 52 percent turnout by the time all the ballots are counted; elections spokeswoman Katie Streit says, "We're a little behind where we thought we'd be at this point," but adds that the county usually collects a lot of ballots on and after election day.

The last day to mail ballots is August 16. In 2007, the most recent off-year primary election without a mayoral slate on the ballot, turnout was 24.92 percent. However, that was before the state went to all-mail voting in 2009. That year, when the mayor's race drew five contenders, turnout in the primary was 31.56 percent.

• Protect Seattle Now, the anti-tunnel group, has raised about $95,000 so far. Although that's a more than respectable showing for a grassroots campaign what's odd about that number is that nearly two-thirds of it---$62,563---came in before a May 20 court ruling that allowed the anti-tunnel referendum to go on the August 16 ballot, and thus before the campaign for the referendum got going in earnest.

Since the ruling, the campaign has raised just $32,811.

One reason for the dropoff is that the Sierra Club and Mayor Mike McGinn's consultant Bill Broadhead---the biggest organizational and individual donors, respectively---put in most of their money (nearly $13,000 of the Sierra Club's $13,415 total contribution, and all of Broadhead's $5,000 contribution) before the campaign was underway.

• Dovetailing with its earlier decision to allow candidates to trash their opponents in the written voters' guide, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission will meet next Monday, August 15, to discuss changing the rules governing the video voters' guide to allow candidates to talk about their opponents as well. Read the current rules here.

• Seattle's loss is Lake Forest Park's ... gain? Stan Lippman---angry anti-vaccine activist, disbarred ex-attorney, and ten-plus-time candidate for office---has apparently moved to the northern Seattle suburb and is running for mayor. His voter guide statement consists entirely of a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt from 1918 about the people's right to criticize the President. Lippman, who has two opponents, has raised no money.
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