Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. In citywide Position 9, incumbent Lorena González had a comfortable 61 percent of the vote last night. Her closest challenger, neighborhood/Seattle Times candidate Pat Murakami won about 20 percent. González’s percentage is down slightly from the 65 percent she won in the primary in 2015, but still a mandate. González isn’t going anywhere.
Now, the open seat. Incumbent Tim Burgess is retiring from citywide Position 8, which leaves a wide open field. With last night’s first drop of results, labor leader Teresa Mosqueda was in a clear first place. After a crowd of supporters chanted “Te-re-sa!” at her election night party, Mosqueda said she was confident her lead would hold.
But second place—which will determine who Mosqueda takes on in November—was a closer call. Tenant advocate Jon Grant looks likely to make it out of the primary and on to the general, setting up an ugly left-on-left fight between now and November. Sara Nelson, the owner of Fremont Brewing backed by the Chamber of Commerce, was very close behind Grant.
Mosqueda won about 31 percent, Grant won about 24 percent, and Nelson about 23 percent. But later voters tend to lean left, so it would take a change to historic trends to push Nelson past Grant. Not impossible, but not likely. Supporters from both camps will be watching the next ballot drops closely.
If it is, as it looks now, Mosqueda vs. Grant, it’ll be a months-long fight for Seattle’s left. Mosqueda has backing from just about every corner of Seattle’s Democratic scene—labor unions, a majority of the city council, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. She’s young, she’s a renter, and her labor cred mostly saves her from the “pro-business” label. (It also brings in large amounts of cash.) Grant, on the other hand, has support from two of the council’s farthest left members, Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold, plus Socialist Alternative and the Democratic Socialists of America. He’s questioning politicians’ dependence on market solutions for addressing housing affordability. This race will quickly become a local proxy battle over the future of the left and Grant will face a significant uphill battle.
At Grant’s election night party, one of his supporters, Nickelsville resident Sean Smith, said he’s backing Grant because of his housing policies. Smith cited a recent city survey of people experiencing homelessness, which found that the majority of them were already living here when they became homeless.
“They’ve been priced out, they’ve lost a job, or their rent has gone up,” Smith said. “If we could make labor understand that’s going to happen to them and they need a candidate who’s going to answer to that, then I think we have a real chance.”