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The 7th Congressional District

As was widely predicted after the initial results, state representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill) pulled into second place in the race for retiring U.S. representative Jim McDermott’s (D-WA, 7) open seat yesterday afternoon after trailing King County council member Joe McDermott by just 500 votes after Tuesday night’s first vote count.

State senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle) still remains far ahead in first place with 39 percent of the vote to Walkinshaw’s 21.29 percent and McDermott’s 20.87 percent. Walkinshaw is now besting Joe McDermott by about 500 votes and had a seven percent advantage over Joe McDermott in the second day count’s 1600 ballots. Walkinshaw told Fizz cautiously this morning: "We came into July as the underdog in this race, we've started to build tremendous momentum, and I'm definitely curious to see what happens at 4:30 PM with the next ballot drop," to see if he's got a trend going.

Joe McDermott’s initially klutzy Tuesday night quote to the Seattle Times—“I’m in second place and I intend to stay there”—is now even worse, reading a little “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

While Jayapal, a charismatic civil rights leader, is surely the strong favorite to win in November, she may have a slightly tougher time beating Walkinshaw than McDermott in a focused one-on-one contest. Walkinshaw, a gay Cuban-American with a young progressive base, is likely to chip away at Jayapal’s hold on the progressive vote, while also winning the votes of moderate, pragmatic Democrats that Joe McDermott appeals to. Not a bad formula to triangulate Jayapal.

Having said that, Seattle appears to be in lefty mood right now (Jayapal campaigned as a Bernie Sanders Democrat), and no matter who eventually comes in second place in this week’s top-two primary, Jayapal will remain the strong favorite to become the newest member of Congress from Washington state.

Twenty Four Years Later, The Year of the Woman 2.0

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 Another major advantage Jayapal has over Walkinshaw or Joe McDermott, she’s a she.

While Democrats are so busy counting on the Trump factor to topple down-ballot Republicans, there’s also something else at play this election season—the Hillary Factor.

Female candidates killed it this week—Nicole Macri, the only woman in her race, got nearly 50 percent of the vote in the crowded race for the 43rd Legislative District state house seat, Erin Jones went through in the state superintendent race, Pierce County executive Pat McCarthy came through as the Democratic candidate in the state auditor’s race, Darcy Burner rocked the establishment Democratic candidate in the 5th Legislative District state house race, and Lisa Wellman is surging against the Republican incumbent in the 41st Legislative District.  Twenty-four years on (google the 1992 election and Patty Murray), it could be the year of the woman once again.

State Senate Update

Speaking of Wellman, in other newsworthy updates: In their chase to retake the state senate, the Democrats primary numbers edged up slightly in a couple of key races. 41st Legislative District Democratic challenger Wellman went from 800 votes behind incumbent Republican state senator Steve Litzow to just 200 votes behind. And in exurban Seattle’s 5th Legislative District, where the Democrats need to hold, incumbent Democratic state senator Mark Mullett went from an iffy 40-vote lead over Republican challenger Chad Magendanz to a (slim) 200-vote lead. These numbers bode well for November. Meanwhile, though, the Democratic hopeful in suburban Vancouver’s 17th Legislative District, Tim Probst fell from 200-vote lead over Republican hopeful Lynda Wilson (the open seat is a must win for the Democrats to regain control of the senate) to just a 46-vote lead.

And now for a quick rendition of On Other Blogs.

First, three cheers for the Stranger.

Last year at this time, thanks to its hang up with mayor Ed Murray (because…Mike McGinn??), the influential and supposedly urbanist paper failed to get Murray’s back when he announced perhaps the most radical policy change in city history: He was going to loosen the restrictions on multi-family housing in single-family zones. As the Seattle Times took up the NIMBY cause to protect the sacred 65 percent of the city that’s zoned exclusively for single families (okay 57 percent if you don’t count greenspace), the Stranger remained on the sidelines, leaving Murray stranded for support in the big media battle. Murray had to withdraw the proposal.

This year, however, after Murray announced a similarly transgressive proposal to wrest power away from Seattle’s exclusive single family homeowners by deprioritizing District Councils, the influential Stranger jumped in this week to get Murray’s back with an article titled:  “Seattle's Neighborhood Councils Are Exclusionary, Self-Interested 'Cartels,' and the City Wants to Cut Ties with Them. Welcome to Round Two of Mayor Ed Murray vs. NIMBYs (and the Seattle Times)."

Nice.

Second in On Other Blogs, Erica C. Barnett continues her great reporting about the undue influence that the private social media site NextDoor has on city policy making. Her latest scoop  details how, despite the fact that her initial coverage forced the mayor to acknowledge that NextDoor was an inappropriate tool for city outreach and discussion (it’s a closed platform), the SPD is continuing to use it.

Outlining the crux of the problem, Barnett writes:

This work, in other words, will directly impact where SPD resources and services are directed, according to SPD. According to SU researcher Jessica Chandler, who (like all the other researchers in SPD’s five precincts) has a seattle.gov email address and posts to Nextdoor from SPD’s official agency Nextdoor account, SPD and the university have done no online outreach outside Nextdoor, and the online RSVP page is an internal Nextdoor page accessible only to Nextdoor members.

In a recent Nextdoor post responding to a North Precinct resident’s question about outreach avenues other Nextdoor, Chandler replied, “We are currently working to have the focus groups shared through other avenues soon! In the meantime, if you would like a flyer I would be more than happy to email one to you. Send me a personal message if so!”

Under state public disclosure law, most communications between city email addresses and citizens are public. But because Chandler’s communications—like Chief O’Toole’s “public town hall” on Nextdoor—took place behind Nextdoor’s firewall, they aren’t accessible to the general public. If you aren’t a Nextdoor member and you want to access government agencies’ conversations there, you have to first know that they exist and second, file a public disclosure request and wait for the results. SPD has a significant backlog of records requests, meaning that even routine requests often take months, so by the time you find out about a conversation, say, on policing priorities in your neighborhood, chances are it will be too late to do anything about it. (One decision that was made in real time is the relocation of a focus group, via private message, to a location more convenient to a single Nextdoor member; “Chandra: I am willing to change locations to better accommodate! I will PM you, thanks!” Chandler wrote.)