At a packed press conference in his International District campaign headquarters this morning, Mayor Mike McGinn finally conceded to challenger Ed Murray, who's currently leading McGinn 55.35 to 43.95 percent.
McGinn initially planned to concede on election night, but held back after ardent and faithful supporters urged him to wait until more votes were counted. McGinn's supporters continued to believe, until virtually the last minute, that he could somehow come back from what was, on election night, a 13-point blowout—reflecting a Romney-esque level of insularity. "This office was crackling over the last few weeks," McGinn said. Even today (and even after conceding), McGinn cautioned reporters not to "judge the results just yet—wait till all the votes are counted."
"I ran on change," McGinn said, and "the fundamental choice was, do I stand up for what I think is right ... or do I do the politically expedient thing? And if I did that, I would become like all of the politicians that drove me crazy as a voter and as a neighborhood guy.
McGinn—who could be seen wiping his eyes emotionally in the back of the room before he came out to face the press corps—said being mayor had been "a great, great job. ... Every last piece of it, I would like to continue doing. ... There is no better job in the world than [being a] big-city mayor." He added, "I wasn't planning for just one term. I was planning for two."
Asked, as he certainly expected to be, what accounted for his loss, McGinn cited the recession, a style that "sometimes rubbed people the wrong way," and his opposition to the downtown tunnel.
"I ran on change," McGinn said, and "the fundamental choice was, do I stand up for what I think is right ... or do I do the politically expedient thing? And if I did that, I would become like all of the politicians that drove me crazy as a voter and as a neighborhood guy. ... At the end of four years, I had to be able to live with myself."
And he added: "We were outspent two to one … and we put up a hell of a fight."
McGinn is right that Murray's campaign raised more money—about $770,000 so far to the McGinn camp's $466,000—but those numbers reflect a higher number of individual Murray donors (3,177 to McGinn's 2,202), and a similar average contribution: $244 for Murray, and $208 for McGinn. That suggests that, contrary to McGinn's populist narrative, Murray actually had more widespread support. As for the many independent expenditure groups that formed to support each candidate, Murray backers raised and spent about $150,000 more than McGinn in a race that cost nearly $2 million.
Before running for mayor, McGinn was head of the Greenwood Neighborhood Council. In the future, he said, he plans to continue in some form of public service, but didn't sound enthused about running for office again. He did say he regretted that he wouldn't get to keep working to implement CareerBridge, a program that works to help people with criminal histories or other barriers to employment find jobs.