City Council member Tim Burgess' bomb shell announcement today that he's withdrawing from the mayor's race changes everything.
Here's how it helps and hurts the remaining field.
1. Mayor Mike McGinn
Josh says: It totally helps McGinn. It shows that McGinn is far more formidable than people thought, adding to a sense out there that after a rocky start, McGinn has regained his footing, and in fact is a serious contender.
Additionally, I'd say this puts the business folks in Murray's camp, which helps McGinn as well. Being the business candidate is a liability in this town. If it comes down to McGinn vs. Murray, McGinn will easily be able to frame it as McGinn vs. the establishment all over again. (And when tunnel problems start creeping back up—tolling revenues anyone?—that doesn't help state Sen. Murray much either.)
Erica says: Burgess' decision wasn't about McGinn; it was about reducing the number of credible McGinn opponents to the point where they don't all eat each other alive. The fewer opponents McGinn has, the greater the likelihood that one will defeat him. If anything, Burgess' supporters will go to Murray and his council colleague Bruce Harrell, who will split the business community two ways (as opposed to three with Burgess in the race). That makes McGinn more vulnerable.
2. Ed Murray
Josh says: Even though I just said this hurts Murray because he becomes the de facto downtown business candidate, it also helps him. In a sense, the issue in this race is that Seattle wants a grownup in the room. Burgess and Murray were splitting the grownup vote. No longer. They go to Murray now.
The two biggest political stories in the last year involved mom and dad—in the form of the DOJ on police accountability and the state Supreme Court on education funding—coming in to save the day. It's a theme that voters like. Murray can capitalize on it.
Erica says: Not so sure this helps Murray as much as it does Bruce Harrell, the remaining City Council member in the race. Burgess and Harrell were the only ones, besides McGinn, who have run citywide recently, and won big. Simple math there, Burgess picks up more votes than Murray, who only represents a fraction of the city.
3. Bruce Harrell
Josh says: This helps Harrell because it takes care of the confusion that two City Council members were running, highlighting Harrell as the anti-McGinn dissident—especially if his council colleague Burgess—whose statement made it clear he doesn't like McGinn ("our city needs new leadership")—endorses him. It also positions Harrell as the only candidate who's up-to-the-minute on city issues and helps his fundraising opportunities.
Erica says: Agreed. Which is why I think it hurts Murray.
4. Peter Steinbrueck
Josh says: Steinbrueck's biggest advantage is his iconic name. The more candidates in the race, the better for Steinbrueck because it lowerers the percentage he needs to to make it through the primary—a percentage that had been well within reach thanks to his famous surname. His odds just went down with one less candidate in the mix, though, because the percentage he needs just went up.
Erica says: Agreed that Steinbrueck's path to victory is largely a numbers game, but I disagree with Josh on how the numbers work out. The fewer opponents, the better for Steinbrueck.
Biggest Winner Overall:
Josh says: A huge win for McGinn. He looks stronger when candidates who are trying to take him out just give up.
Erica says: A win for Harrell. He's now the only candidate from the city council; he has credibility among the business and police-accountability interests who had been split between him and Burgess; and Burgess' decision is a tangible sign of Harrell's strength and viability.
Oh, and ...
Biggest Loser: Burgess.
Not only did he crash as a mayoral candidate (probably the quickest flameout per dollar raised in local mayor's race history), but the swagger he's had as "The-Council-Member-Most-Likely-To" for the last three years, is all gone now.
And odd note: Why bother firing your campaign spokesman, as Burgess did yesterday, a day before dropping out of the race? It's just another sign that Burgess didn't have a handle on the situation.
Cola photos by Carryn Vande Griend