This is more like Morning Jolt than Morning Fizz.
After grabbing nearly 56 percent (55.96) of the latest vote count, Tammy Morales, the food systems activist in Southeast Seattle who's running against longtime council incumbent Bruce Harrell, has a solid shot at winning the election. (Harrell was first elected in 2007.) There's an estimated 7,000 ballots left to count in Southeast's District Two.
If Morales continues to take 56 percent, she will land in a virtual dead heat with Harrell, who currently leads by just 776 votes, 53.10 percent to 46.75 percent.
Morales's trend line remains unpredictable, though. She lost the first count on Tuesday night badly, taking 44.9 percent to Harrell's 54.87 (out of 8,947 votes); she took a slight majority of Wednesday night's first count, getting 50.05 percent to Harrell's 49.94 (out of 1,824 votes); she fell back down again, taking 47.04 percent of Wednesday night's (much smaller) second count to Harrell's 52.96 (355 votes). And then last night, she made her move, getting an impressive 56 percent showing out of another sizable batch (1,106 votes).
This general-election nail biter is remarkably different from the August primary contest, which Harrell, the city council's only African American (and early advocate of cop body cameras), won easily with 61.72 percent. Morales got just 24.66 percent. A third candidate, Josh Farris, got 13.2 percent. Turnout to date in Southeast's District Two is just 25.85 percent, which is about what it was overall in the primary—26.81. It's a much lower turnout than the rest of Seattle, currently hovering in the low 30s. (I've factored that into my estimation of the outstanding votes in the Harrell/Morales race, along with a guessworky "drop-off" estimate, i.e., voters who don't make it down to the bottom of the ballot where the local races are.)
One factor in Morales's surprise showing—very few pundits thought she had a chance just a week ago—has to be The Stranger's reversal; the influential alt-weekly endorsed Harrell in the primary, but changed up and endorsed Morales in the general. Oddly, though, The Stranger's main cause celebre this election, Tim Burgess's opponent Jon Grant, lost badly to Burgess.
A sign of Morales's below-the-radar support is this: As I noted in the week before the election, unlike most candidates, including Harrell, Morales's biggest swath of donors, 34 percent, came from within the district. Harrell's largest showing of donors (31 percent), and this was typical for most candidates, came from outside the city. Harrell found just 17 percent of his donors in District Two.
Another potential come-from-behind victory is brewing in West Seattle's First District, where populist Nick Licata aide Lisa Herbold and liberal King County council member Joe McDermott aide Shannon Braddock remain locked in a tight race. On election night, Braddock was winning by 733 votes, 52.92 to 46.48. But Herbold remains within striking distance.
After getting 53.85 and 52.19 percent respectively of the last two counts, Herbold has cut the vote gap to 638 votes and is down 51.69 to 47.81. However, with an estimated 9,000 votes left to count, Herbold needs to hit about 53 percent of the outstanding votes to take the lead. Herbold came from behind to win the nine-way primary, 30.15 percent to Braddock's 27.78 percent after Braddock won the opening-night count 28.59 percent to 27.44 percent.
If Morales and Herbold, both left-wingers, win, I would certainly need to revise yesterday's post which posited that socialist city council star Kshama Sawant won her reelection, but lost the election.
P.S. And for those that think I'm down on Sawant, you wouldn't know it from reading today's report on Sawant's reelection in this morning's Al Jazeera.