Slog reader Julian emails me with this bit of overheard conversation regarding Seattle's Charter Amendment 19, district elections:
I know you're not a fan of Prop 19. I wait on the 37th and 43rd combined district republican monthly meetings. Usually, they barely have 20 people and are dreadfully boring, but they had a representative from Prop 19 tonight, and I heard straight from their mouths the rationale behind prop 19, and why all the R's will be voting for it.
Over and over and over, these people fixate on securing 35% of the King County vote. They claim (every month) that if they can secure 35% of the KC vote, they can win state wide.
It's not just that the minor slum lords want to have the chance to own their own one and only district person, its deeper than that. They want to be able to elect one or even two republican leaning council members from the affluent districts. If a safe republican seat can be created on the city council, you have the opportunity to create a republican bench inside Seattle. Since Rossi came close, but failed to make in roads in KC, a candidate closer to home might work. They fully acknowledge they won't win the at large or the rest of the seats, but they said that having a decent chance at a couple seats will lead to big gains in the future.
So that's the Republican rationale for supporting district elections, and it makes a bit of sense. Though I have to say that I don't think an openly-Republican Republican could win election in any of the proposed council districts (they're not competitive in the LDs), and there would be hell to pay from Seattle voters should a closeted-Republican council member run for higher office on the GOP ticket (you know who I'm talking about, Tim). I also think that the 35 percent bar is a little low; a Republican candidate really needs to push closer to 40 percent in King County in order to have a decent shot at winning statewide.
All that said, if Republicans are for district elections—and for purely strategic reasons—it only serves to reinforce my opposition to this well-meaning but deeply flawed ballot measure.