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Election Results: Tunnel Winning Big; Forch Leading to Challenge Godden

By Erica C. Barnett August 16, 2011

In what one city hall staffer just called a "thrashing," the anti-tunnel campaign is losing tonight, 40 to 60. That's out of just over 208,000 votes cast, or just under 20 percent of King County's 1.1 million registered voters. Although King County Elections was predicted turnout of 52 percent, that's much higher than historical off-year primary election turnout, and the ultimate number seems more likely to be in the low 30s.

Christian Sinderman, a consultant for the pro-tunnel campaign, said, "This is a big enough margin that I don't see much changing. I think it's a pretty clear statement. The voters are saying, 'Can we please just move on and do something?'"

"We ran a strong grassroots campaign, getting out early and getting all the Democratic endorsements. We were doing door-to-door campaigning the last three days and phone-banking, calling undecideds."

We asked Sinderman: Did McGinn play a role in this election? Was it, in other words, a referendum on the mayor? [pullquote]"Frankly, I've been outspent on a lot of other fights. I guess their message resonated better than ours." ---City Council member and tunnel opponent Mike O'Brien[/pullquote]

"I think so. McGinn made this a centerpiece of this campaign. He's the reason this was on the ballot. It would never have gotten on the ballot without his leadership on this, and I think the voters were fed up with his meddling."

City council member Mike O'Brien, a tunnel opponent, said he didn't know to what extent the tunnel vote was a referendum on McGinn, but added, "It's always a shame when you're fighting about issues and people make it about personalities. That's kind of disappointing. I would hope that folks voted not because of any individual on one side or the other" but because of their position on the tunnel issue.

Ben Schiendelman, spokesman for the anti-tunnel campaign, said, "60-40 is pretty conclusive. I don't think it's going to change. The other side had ten times as much money because they had big corporations donating. This was corporations vs. people and the corporations won.

"When we see cost overruns on this project and when we see the tunnel doesn't offer the benefits [that were promised], you're going to see more people involved the next time."

O'Brien downplayed the fact that the campaign was outspent. "Frankly, I've been outspent on a lot of other fights. I guess their message resonated better than ours.

"I've been working on this issue for six years and it's exhausting, and so I appreciate that there's probably a contingent of people just saying their slogan, 'let's move forward.' I didn't think the project was good enough to move forward with, but obviously the people did, so that's what we'll do."

Alex Fryer, spokesman for the pro-tunnel campaign, called the charge that his side was run by corporations "laughable on a number of fronts. There are [several] ways to gauge support. One is money; one is endorsements. We swamped [the anti-tunnel campaign] on both.

"The third," Fryer continued, "is political. You have a bunch of incumbents up for reelection. There was supposed to be this big grassroots movement against them because of their position on the tunnel. You just didn't see that."

Asked what turned the campaign around in the tunnel's favor, Fryer said: "Our polling had us winning. We didn't release that. We didn't want to change the story line of us as underdogs. In the beginning of this campaign, people associated with the mayor's office would talk to me and say, 'You know you're going to lose this, don't you? I just didn't says anything. I wasn't going to let them change their assumption that they were winning." [pullquote]And this myth that the mayor has tapped into some new strain of Seattle voters? Well that died tonight at 8:15.—Downtown Seattle Association VP, Jon Scholes[/pullquote]

Jon Scholes, vice president at the pro-tunnel Downtown Seattle Association, echoed Fryer: "We didn't win because we raised a ton and spent a ton on paid media, which we did. We beat them in the field as well. We had a better phone operation. We worked endorsements. The anti tunnel fervor was never as wide or deep as the Mayor wanted everyone to believe. That's evident in the fact that no credible anti tunnel candidates emerged and in the [tunnel referendum] vote."

He added: "And this myth that the mayor has tapped into some new strain of Seattle voters? Well that died tonight at 8:15."

We have a call out to McGinn to get his reaction to tonight's routing, as well as several pro-tunnel city council members.

In the other big contested race, for Jean Godden's seat on the city council, challenger Bobby Forch will almost certainly go on to challenge Godden in the general election. She has 45.59 percent of the vote right now, to Forch's 23.76 percent. Maurice Classen is in third with 16.41 percent. Sinderman, who worked for Classen, attributed the loss to the fact that Forch has run before---two years ago, for the open council seat that was filled by Mike O'Brien.

In the race for King County Council member Jane Hague's seat, Hague was in the lead with a not-very-convincing margin of 39.30 percent to runner-up Richard Mitchell's 27.87 percent. Port commissioner John Creighton, meanwhile, was at 25.15 percent. Sinderman predicts that Mitchell will likely go on to the general, in part because of a well-publicized scandal involving Creighton's ex-girlfriend, who accused him of stalking her, and because late voters tend to be undecided until the last minute and are less likely than early voters to be influenced by name recognition.

8:15 pm: Election results just posted at King County elections. The biggest news, since you're wondering: The tunnel referendum is winning big right now, with 59.66 percent of the vote, to the "no" camp's 40.34 percent.

In the other race we're watching closely, Jean Godden has 45.59 percent of the vote. The runner-up tonight is Bobby Forch, with 23.76 percent. Maurice Classen has 16.41 percent, and Michael Taylor-Judd has 13.59 percent.

King County
Proposition No. 1
Veterans and Human Services Levy
Yes 66.25
No 33.75

Metropolitan King County Council District No. 6
Patsy Bonincontri 7.30
Richard E. Mitchell 27.87
Jane Hague 39.30
John Creighton 25.15

Metropolitan King County Council District No. 8
Joe McDermott 67.07
Goodspaceguy 5.16
Diana Toledo 27.23

Seattle Referendum 1 (deep-bore tunnel referendume)
Yes 59.66
No 40.34

City of Seattle Council Position No. 1
Michael Taylor-Judd 13.59
Maurice Classen 16.41
Jean Godden 45.59
Bobby Forch 23.76

City of Seattle Council Position No. 9
Fathi Karshie 5.17
Sally J. Clark 71.40
Dian Ferguson 22.39

Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1, Judge Position No. 2
Michael Spearman 97.38

Seattle School District Director District No. 1
John Cummings 11.58
Peter Maier 50.97
Sharon Peaslee 36.66

Seattle School District Director District No. 2
Jack Whelan 17.97
Terrence J. Menage 6.07
Mark T. Weber 5.91
Sherry Carr 40.15
Kate Martin 29.07

Seattle School Director District No. 3
John Dunn 26.79
David Blomstrom 3.09
Harium Martin-Morris 41.34
Michelle Buetow 28.11

Seattle School Director District No. 6
Nick Esparza 4.88
Marty McLaren 30.27
Steve Sundquist 42.85
Joy Anderson 21.24
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