State Sen. Ed Murray, who's running against incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn, says McGinn's claim that Murray supported 1998's anti-affirmative action measure I-200 is false.

(At a press conference this morning, McGinn supporter Velma Veloria, a former state legislator, said that Murray told his fellow caucus members he "didn't oppose I-200" and that, behind closed doors, Murray argued that women and racial minorities had achieved equality and no longer needed affirmative action.) 

Murray told PubliCola he signed on to a bill sponsored by the late Rep. Kip Tokuda (D-37) that would have rebuffed I-200 and accused Veloria of "race-baiting" by accusing Murray of opposing affirmative action. "I'm just stunned and hurt," Murray says. "[Tokuda's] proposal was to keep affirmative action in place, and I signed on to that."

As evidence that Murray was opposed to affirmative action in 1998, McGinn's campaign pointed to Murray's willingness to facilitate talks between state Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-44, Snohomish), who was pushing a counter proposal to fight I-200 that would have redefined discrimination along economic, not racial, lines—as opposed to Rep. Tokuda's race-based approach. 

Murray says he decided "I would not be part of Hans' agenda" and supported the state's affirmative-action programs instead. "I believe my district voted at the highest [level] against Tim Eyman's initiative" 200, he says. 

Dunshee—a McGinn contributor and supporter, by the way, who threw a fundraiser for the mayor with environmental hero Bill McKibben last week—himself confirms Murray's version of events.

"He certainly didn't support" ending affirmative action through I-200, Dunshee says. Meanwhile, "My proposal never came up for a vote," so there was never any opportunity for Murray to support it, Dunshee says. 

Dunshee, a hard-core liberal, adds that he was trying to do an end run around initiative maven Tim Eyman and his push to kill affirmative action. "I was pretty sure I-200 was going to pass, and this was a way to take the race card away from Eyman," Dunshee says.

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