One thing is for sure: Seattle will elect its first female mayor in 91 years.
The primary election showed former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan solidly in the lead to make it through the primary election and onto the general in November, with civic activist and urban planner Cary Moon narrowly in second place.
Attorney, educator, and social justice activist Nikkita Oliver is in third place, and with late votes coming in, she could still make it through. As it stands right now, their difference in votes would be out of the range to trigger an automatic recount (less than 0.5 percent of total votes between the two candidates). Bob Hasegawa and Mike McGinn received the least amount of votes among the high-profile challengers.
At a crowded bar in Pioneer Square, Durkan addressed her enthusiastic supporters when the results came in early, and said it was one of the best fields of candidates the city's ever had for mayor.
"We are far from done," she told her supporters, and called for them to reach out to other voters in the upcoming months heading toward the general on November 7.
Here are the results as of Tuesday night:
- Jenny Durkan: 31.6% (27,579)
- Cary Moon: 15.6% (13,583)
- Nikkita Oliver: 13.9% (12,126)
- Jessyn Farrell: 11.8% (10,308)
- Bob Hasegawa: 8.6% (7,526)
- Mike McGinn: 7.2% (6,247)
Results seemed to show that The Stranger Election Control Board's endorsement held a lot of weight this year, in a crowded 21-candidate race with six high-profile challengers and an incumbent that dropped his bid for re-election after sexual assault allegations. Two early polls showed a large chunk of voters were undecided with just weeks left before the primary. Moon thanked The Stranger and The Urbanist specifically for their endorsements in a released statement, said she refuses "status quo thinking and politics as usual," and looked forward to the next few days of returns.
Historically in Seattle elections, later votes have gone to more progressive candidates, which could fall in Oliver’s favor.
Moon told PubliCola Tuesday night that regardless of what happens in the next few days, she wants to form a strong progressive coalition with the other mayoral candidates' campaigns—whether it's her or Oliver in second place for the general election—against Durkan.
"I don't think she's really committed to the changes we need to make," said Moon, referring to housing affordability, and social and racial justice. "That is front and center. I don’t think she has the skills to do the work that needs to be done."
Durkan in response said she has one of the "deepest records over 30 years" compared to other candidates fighting for racial and social equity on criminal justice and police reform.
"I think there’s never been anyone who's run for office that can be arrogant enough to believe they can deliver their voters," Durkan told PubliCola. "Voters vote for the people that they believe can lead them."
Oliver's supporters Tuesday night gathered at the Washington Hall, where several speakers said she fought for the most marginalized communities and entered the race long before others had the courage to challenge Murray, adding that it was just the start to their movement regardless of whether Oliver becomes the next mayor.
"We've done what many people didn’t think our campaign could do, and that’s what I want our community to hold on to," Oliver told PubliCola.
The question is whether Oliver's support base turned out to vote enough to push her through the primary above Moon.
Moon said she would be "honored" to support her if that's the case. While Oliver would personally support Moon over Durkan, she said it would be a party's decision on whether her campaign would help back Moon for the general.
King County Elections will release more ballot counts by 4:30pm on Wednesday. Results between Moon and Oliver could trigger an automatic machine recount if the difference is less than 2,000 votes and less than 0.5 percent of the total votes cast between the second- and third-place candidates.
Updated August 2, 2017, at 5:55am with more interviews and information, and corrects that the general election is on November 7.