Post-Election Jolt: Primary Winners and Losers
Winner: Ed Murray.
Yeah, we know it seems obvious. After all, Murray came in first in the mayor's race, with more than 30 percent of the vote as of last night (to incumbent Mike McGinn's 27 percent). But despite being the frontrunner during the final two-week runnup to the primary, Murray was actually a long-shot candidate until very recently.
He went from being a relatively unknown state legislator representing just one Seattle district (he was polling in third place in May at 15 percent, behind McGinn at 22 and former city council member Peter Steinbrueck at 17 who both had citywide name rec) and being handicapped by an inability to raise any money during not one but two special legislative sessions, to eventually out-polling an incumbent mayor who's been in the headlines for the past four years.
Loser: Ed Murray.
After a low-profile primary election, the cameras were finally rolling last night as Murray stepped on stage and into the general election to give his victory speech. We noted last night that Murray "gave a somewhat stiff victory speech, reading from a stilted, scripted speech."
Time to be more specific: He reminded us of John McCain.
Seriously, actually leaning on McCain's infamous "my friends" verbal (old-school political) tic, Murray stumbled over phrases and lost his place on more than one occasion and looked stiff. And his applause lines often seemed forced.
Murray is not a fluid speaker. And juxtaposed against the commanding McGinn in a field of two now, it became clear last night that Murray lacks room-size charisma. (McGinn, in contrast, held the room at his election party last night, prompting ecstatic cheers of "Four more years!")
Loser: Tracking polls.
So much for predictions. Tracking polls showed McGinn coming in third or possibly fourth, behind Murray, Steinbrueck, and potentially city council member Bruce Harrell.
"We don't think he'll be in the top two tonight," McGinn consultant John Wyble told PubliCola yesterday. (He told the Seattle Times the same thing.) Was Wyble playing the press so that last night's numbers looked good? No. We heard the exact same scenario from McGinn's opponents as well—everyone's internal polls had McGinn locked in a battle with Steinbrueck to make it through. McGinn beat Steinbrueck by more than 10 points last night.
As opposed to the high-priced pollsters and the campaigns they worked for (who frankly, called us constantly to say ElectionNerd was off-base), our anonymous hack, writing on Monday, nailed the primary-night results, predicting a Murray-McGinn final (and correctly predicting that Steinbrueck would come in third, with Harrell coming in fourth.)
ElectionNerd's odds on Monday were as follows: Murray 2:1, McGinn 4:1 ... and, in a big jump back, Steinbrueck 7:1 and Harrell 9:1.
Loser: The "Establishment."
One incumbent Seattle City Council member faced a challenge from the right and one Seattle City Council member faced a challenge from the left.
Guess which one did (much) better?
Albert Shen, the Seattle Times and Seattle Chamber of Commerce-backed challenger to council member Mike O'Brien, won just 35 percent to O'Brien's 57 percent. Meanwhile, Richard Conlin, the longtime council incumbent, got just 49 percent against Socialist challenger Kshama Sawant, who reported a serious 33 percent.
(Mark the Stranger as another winner on this one. The left-wing weekly endorsed Sawant—both last year when she ran against state house speaker Rep. Frank Chopp, D-43, and again against Conlin this year. They have certainly brought the Seattle Central economics professor and Occupy activist up from political obscurity.)
Loser: Whole Foods
The upscale, non-union grocer became this year's bike lanes—the lightning rod and defining issue in the campaign.
Yesterday, Josh wrote a column saying he wanted to see a McGinn vs. Murray final. A Steinbrueck McGinn race, he fretted, would be a waste of our civic time because it would be a replay of a Seattle debate that's already settled—urbanism (McGinn) vs. slow growth (Steinbrueck). Seattle is on the urbanist track already; the question is what kind of urbanism do we want? Do we want a Seattle-centered focus (McGinn) or a regionalist agenda (Murray)?
He got his wish. Let the debate begin.
Loser: Lesser Seattle
On a related note. The "neighborhood" candidate—a euphemism for the group that lost the old debate—came in a distant third last night. More evidence that the '90s are over.
Loser: Bellevue City Council member Don Davidson.
Old-school values seem to be on the wane across the water in Bellevue as well.
The conservative longtime Bellevue City Council incumbent, whose campaign got to a slow start because of health problems (Davidson failed to submit a voters' pamphlet statement to the county) seems likely to lose to challenger Lynne Robinson. or to another challenger, Vandana Slatter. Both women are progressives who, unlike Davidson, support light rail and a more urban, progressive Bellevue.
Robinson, a progressive, is a small business owner, member of the Bellevue Parks Commission, and a board member of the Bellevue Network on Aging.
Davidson is a member of a four-member Bellevue council majority financed by anti-light-rail developer Kemper Freeman; the apparently shrinking bloc includes Bellevue developer Kevin Wallace, who had no serious challengers.