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The Race for Jim McDermott's Seat

It wasn’t 100 percent surprising that state representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill) won the sole primary endorsement from the 43rd District Democrats last night in the race for the 7th U.S. Congressional seat; longtime incumbent U.S. representative Jim McDermott is retiring. But Walkinshaw’s hardy, decisive win on his home turf—he got 73 percent to state senator Pramila Jayapal’s (D-37, Southeast Seattle) 28 percent —was noteworthy. The third main candidate, King County Council member Joe McDermott (no relation) got just 11 percent. (District members could vote for as many candidates as they wanted, so the numbers don’t have to add up to 100 percent; candidates needed 60 percent of the ballots cast to get the endorsement—and nearly 200 people showed up at Kane Hall in the U. District last night to vote.)

Five state Legislative Districts make up the bulk of 7th Congressional District—West Seattle’s 34th LD, Ballard’s 36th LD, Capitol Hill’s 43rd, North Seattle’s 46th, and the Northern suburbs in the 32nd. After last night’s results, the tally is: Jayapal and Walkinshaw tied for the lead with three endorsements each—Walkinshaw's sole in the 43rd, plus his two dual endorsements with Jayapal in the 36th and 46th versus Jayapal with her two duals plus her sole endorsement in the 32nd. Of those key LDs, McDermott just has one endorsement, the sole endorsement in the 34th.

It’s hard to suss the significance of district endorsements (the membership pledges to doorbell for their chosen candidate), but Jayapal certainly made a go at defeating Walkinshaw last night, getting introduced by popular lefty city council member Mike O’Brien (who said the reason he endorsed her was to guarantee immigration reform in D.C.) and having an unusual second intro from someone who said he had been a Walkinshaw supporter until Jayapal jumped in the race.

The candidates stuck to their themes in their two-minute pitches: Jayapal, who notably didn’t mention her Bernie Sanders endorsement, talked about her immigrants’ rights work with OneAmerica, her commitment to a $15 minimum wage, and her work in the legislature, noting her successful legislation to add contraceptive care to Medicaid coverage. Joe McDermott—in a robotic, memorized speech—talked about campaign finance reform and gun control. And Walkinshaw stressed the cutting edge politics of the 43rd (gay marriage, housing policy) and said he wanted to bring that energy to D.C., particularly on environmental issues. He’s calling for a carbon tax.

The Housing Levy

In other results from the 43rd (the district, that according to  43rd chair James Apa last night, former Republican state attorney general and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna said cost him the 2012 governor's race): The $290 million property tax housing levy, which doubles the expiring levy, got 93.5 percent out of nearly 200 ballots, for the 43rd’s endorsement.

Mayor Ed Murray introduced the measure to the crowd, putting it in the national context, saying “this district and this city can change the course for housing policy in this country.” (Murray’s affordable housing plan, by the way—HALA’s mandatory affordable housing mandate in exchange for upzones—may be controversial locally, but the word from a national urban policy conference in Boulder, Colorado this weekend, where housing advocates from places like Portland were gawking over the compromise, indicates we’re getting props nationally.)

The Race for State Representative from the 43rd

It took a re-vote, but Nicole Macri, the housing advocate with the Downtown Emergency Services Center, (after getting 59 plus percent on the first ballot) scored 63 percent on a second go round to get the sole endorsement in the race for the 43rd’s own new state representative in Olympia; that’d be Walkinshaw’s open seat.

Her main rival, Dan Shih, who ended up in third with 25 percent, was introduced by the 43rd’s own state senator Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill.)

Surprises and Footnotes

Pedersen—not sure how much sway he has judging from last night’s results—also spoke in favor of state senator Marko Liias (D-21, Edmonds), who’s running for state treasurer.

Liias only got 25 percent, losing to the surprise candidate of the night, financial consultant and Cambridge educated John Paul Comerford, an unknown who impressed the crowd with his relevant resume—the vice chair of the investment advisory board for the city, a member of the state economic development authority, and once appointed by President Jimmy Carter as head of the National Consumer Cooperative Bank. He also wowed the crowd with his agenda: divest the state from fossil fuels and start a state bank.

Another impressive speech came from King County Council member Dave Upthegrove; Upthegrove is running for public lands commissioner. He noted that during his time in the state legislature heading up the house environmental committee, he passed legislation to phase out the state’s biggest coal plant (true) and said dramatically—“we have a climate crisis, and because of undue corporate influence, too often I’ve seen Democrats become complacent and even complicit. I’m not taking money from timber or coal companies.” He ended by saying “environmental issues intersect with social justice issues.”

Upthegrove, who did get 58 percent, lost, though, to non-profit environmental leader, the head of Futurewise, Hilary Franz. Franz, though a bit less concise, gave a passionate speech herself and won the endorsement, topping the 60 percent mark.

A footnote: Kane Hall was packed for this event. 200-plus people came out on the second day of summer, a Tuesday night in June, for a legislative district endorsement meeting where a bunch of somewhat redundant liberal Democrats are running against each other in an August primary.

Answer: Light rail.