Her campaign made it official this morning: Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan is running for mayor. Durkan will formally announce her campaign at 10:30 am tomorrow in Beacon Hill.
Durkan will be an immediate frontrunner and could win support among people previously backing Mayor Ed Murray. Murray, who faces allegations that he sexually abused several teenagers in the 1980s, announced Tuesday he will no longer run for re-election.
The campaign announcement calls Durkan a "progressive champion on police reform and other issues."
Durkan is a University of Washington graduate and former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington. Here are a few other things you should know about her:
She's known as a Democratic Party "fixer." Durkan is well-connected in the state Democratic Party. Her father was a well-known and powerful state senator. Durkan is personally and professionally close with former Governor Christine Gregoire. She worked as Gregoire’s private lawyer and represented the Democratic Party during the legal fight over Gregoire’s race against Republican Dino Rossi. During that battle, then-chair of the state Republican Party Chris Vance called Durkan the Democratic Party’s “fixer.” When Durkan stepped down as U.S. attorney in 2014, some wondered if she was angling for a spot in an eventual
She has prosecuted terrorists, cybercriminals, and the guys behind Strippergate. As U.S. attorney, Durkan prosecuted an al-Qaida-trained man found with plans and supplies to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport. Her office also went after the Colacurcios, a local family whose strip club empire was the subject of a years-long probe by local and federal law enforcement. Prosecutors accused the family of laundering money, promoting prostitution, and committing mail fraud, according to reports from the time. (The family made headlines for the “Strippergate” controversy in 2003, when they donated thousands of dollars to Seattle City Council members who in turn helped expand parking at one of the family’s strip clubs.) The Department of Justice credited Durkan for helping shape its strategy on cybercrime. In a high profile case in 2014, Durkan's office indicted a Russian man for hacking into retail sale systems and installing malware to steal credit card information.
She has also targeted protesters. Back in 2012, several people were hauled before a grand jury to answer questions about possible involvement in May Day vandalism of the federal courthouse. Those who refused to talk were jailed. As former Stranger writer Brendan Kiley reported at the time, one of the warrants in the case listed "black clothing, electronics, and 'paperwork-anarchists in the Occupy movement,'" leading some to believe the case was based more on political ideology than evidence of involvement in May Day. (One of the people targeted said she wasn't even in Seattle on May Day.) Durkan's office, which brought the case, sealed documents and provided no comment as the case unfolded.
And raided pot shops. In 2011, while Durkan was U.S. attorney, DEA officers descended on medical marijuana dispensaries across western Washington and arrested some employees. The action came after Gregoire vetoed key parts of medical cannabis legislation, resulting in a legal mess that left many dispensaries out of compliance with the law despite the fact that medical cannabis has been legal in Washington since 1998. At the time, Durkan said the targeted dispensaries were participating in "brash criminal conduct that masquerades as medical treatment." After Washington voters legalized recreational cannabis in 2012, Durkan said her office's responsibility to enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act "remains unchanged." Two years later, she acknowledged the importance of state-level regulations while cracking down on hash oil labs.
Her firm has represented Shell, Uber, and McDonalds. Durkan's work focuses on white collar criminal defense, intellectual property, cyber security, and international trade, according to her employer's website. While she has not directly worked on these cases, her firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, has also represented massive corporations. Among its cases: The firm has represented Shell Oil as the company fought to drill for oil in the Arctic and Uber in a case alleging the company mislead consumers. The firm also represented McDonald's in a suit about wage-and-hour violations at stores in the San Francisco Bay area.
Police reform will be a major issue in the campaign. Along with community groups and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Durkan requested the 2011 Justice Department review of Seattle Police Department practices that resulted in the consent decree currently forcing reform in the department. But she at times had a tenuous relationship with the Community Police Commission, the citizen panel that makes recommendations for changes within the Seattle Police Department and is key to community buy-in on reform. When Murray took office, she backed his choice of Harry Bailey for interim police chief. Bailey would later dismiss concerns about an officer who shot a man as he was running away from officers. (Seven months after Murray appointed him, Bailey retired.) During the 2013 election, in which Murray beat then-mayor Mike McGinn, Durkan waded into the campaign and criticized McGinn. As Durkan joins the race and McGinn is already in for another shot at his old job, that could make for an interesting—and uncomfortable—dynamic.