In the race to replace retiring longtime U.S. representative Jim McDermott (D-WA, 7), the Seattle Times endorsed state representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill) this week and a few days later, the Stranger endorsed state senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle.) The local daily and the local weekly typically go separate ways on their endorsements—with the Stranger’s imprimatur marking the more progressive candidate and the Times’ imprimatur (much like chamber of commerce endorsements) branding candidates as conservatives.
Walkinshaw, a gay Cuban-American, is no conservative, though; he’s been running on instituting a federal carbon tax. And he recently hands down won the super progressive 43rd District Democrats endorsement. However, he was also a total muddle on the big Democratic Party question of the year—Hillary or Bernie? Jayapal was all in on Sanders (and Sanders endorsed her.) And the other top candidate, King County council member Joe McDermott (no relation), was early for Clinton.
But what started out as match up between Jayapal and Walkinshaw for Seattle’s progressive bloc—with the third candidate Joe McDermott (no relation), looking like he’d divide and conquer and make it through the August 2 top-two primary as the moderate alternative— is no longer and easy race to chart. Joe McDermott's failure to win the Seattle Times' endorsement is a blow to his campaign and certainly elevates relative newcomer Walkinshaw, who's only been in office since 2014. It also could reset and reframe a general election bout between Jayapal and Walkinshaw.
I asked both Jayapal and Walkinshaw for their takes on the two big media endorsements. Jayapal passed. Walkinshaw said:
With the Stranger...They praise my "truly impressive track record of actual accomplishments" and my urbanist focus. They note that I am the candidate who was bold and initiated this race. [Walkinshaw broke local taboo by challenging Jim McDermott while the Seattle icon was still intending to run, and he's credited with knocking him out and clearing the way for more candidates.] They question why senator Jayapal is running outside the District where she lives. They even call me a feisty progressive! They present a good choice to voters. As for the Seattle Times, they're spot on. They recognize that I'm both deeply progressive and able to work effectively across a partisan divide to deliver results. This race is not your traditional Stranger v. Times divide.
The polling I’ve heard about is inconclusive and Joe McDermott has been a distant third in fundraising; currently Jayapal is at $1.2 million and Walkinshaw is at $850,000. FEC reports are due today.
Jayapal, a dynamite civil rights leader, founded the state’s premier and successful immigrant rights group, OneAmerica. Endorsed by Bernie Sanders, she’s an energetic and charismatic lefty who can give poetic speeches about income inequality (she was on the $15 minimum wage task force) and can unpack the dangers of Donald Trump (OneAmerica sued the government and won over the illegal deportation of 4,000 Somali men). As for the ability to get things done legislatively: She recently got a bill through the state legislature, where the senate is controlled by Republicans, that added reversible contraception like IUDs to the state Medicaid coverage list. She was also the top-ranked state senator by the the social justice group Washington Community Action Network for her focus on raising the statewide minimum, sponsoring the ACLU’s body cameras bill (neither bill passed), and successfully beating back legislation that would have undone payday loan regulations.
Joe McDermott is a former longtime state legislator—first in the house and then in the senate—from West Seattle. He’s also on the Sound Transit board. Joe McDermott, though a clumsy speaker and mostly just a reliable liberal vote on budgets, does have a couple of legit legislative boasts. He worked with then state representative Ed Murray to pass the state’s landmark 2006 gay civil rights bill (McDermott is gay), and he also passed a campaign finance reform law that allowed local jurisdictions to enact public financing; Seattle took him up on it by enacting 2015’s public financing measure, I-122.
Walkinshaw, a Princeton grad and former Gates Foundation health policy nerd, who as a newbie in the state house, helped pass a progressive mental health bill and helped tie affordable housing requirements to transit funding, was also top ranked as "exceptional" in the Washington CAN report.
Ultimately , the three candidates seemed to have divvied up progressive causes to stump on: Jayapal, is running on immigration reform and raising the minimum wage; McDermott’s running on campaign finance reform and repealing liberal bête noir Citizens United. He’s also running on gun control, an issue he prioritized right out of the gate several months before Orlando, calling for ban on assault rifles, comprehensive background checks, and framing it as a public health issue.
Walkinshaw’s got his carbon tax along with a persistent pitch to get mass transit dollars flowing into Seattle from D.C.
No PubliCola or SeattleMet endorsement, but here's how a 2014 magazine feature I wrote on Jayapal concluded: "She is one of a new wave of candidates and legislators—like Cuban American state representative Brady Walkinshaw, who the Democratic Party appointed earlier this year, that is extending the party’s platform, or perhaps forcing it out of its static zone."