After our first-ever election under the new districted city council system, we know who's headed to November's general election. How much did it cost them to get there?
District races demand less overall money than the old citywide system since candidates have fewer people to reach by mail, fewer doors to knock on, and so on. But they've also attracted unprecedented outside spending and big costs in the most contentious races. One way to see the dual effects of the district system: Look at how much candidates paid for your vote.
Some of the results aren't too surprising. Competitive races—see West Seattle and socialist Kshama Sawant's race in District 3—cost more per vote than sleepier races like Mike O'Brien's in District 6. Districts cost more per vote than citywide seats because fewer voters are in play. (Take the example of a countywide race: Port Commissioner Courtney Gregoire, who's in a non-race with Goodspaceguy, only had to spend a nickel per vote.)
In the council races, the cost-per-vote look underscores, yet again, the surprisingly good showings of a couple underdogs. In one of the citywide races, tenant advocate Jon Grant has persistently lagged in fundraising behind incumbent Tim Burgess and John Roderick, but handily won his way to the general election. Grant spent less than one-third of what Burgess spent per-vote.
Similarly, Michael Maddux ran a shoestring campaign in District 4 and ended up spending about $8 per vote to his opponent Rob Johnson's $15 per vote.
Incumbent Jean Godden, who was knocked out of the running by Maddux and Johnson, spent $30.11 per vote. Of course, losers tend to spend more per vote since they win fewer votes, but that's still a high number. In the city's most expensive district race, District 3, Sawant and her opponent Pamela Banks spent about $20 per vote.
Here's how much each city council candidate who's headed to the November election spent per vote in the primary. (I've also noted the per-vote cost with outside spending included for those races where special interests spent on things like advertising for candidates. So-called independent expenditures aren't organized by the candidates themselves, but they still play a role in getting out the vote. Expect to see a lot more of them between now and November.)
District 1 (West Seattle)
Lisa Herbold: $11.06
Shannon Braddock: $14.10 ($29.22 with independent expenditures)
District 2 (southeast):
Bruce Harrell: $12.50
Tammy Morales: $15
District 3 (Capitol Hill, Central District)
Kshama Sawant: $19.24 ($19.53 with independent expenditures)
Pamela Banks: $19.56
District 4 (northeast)
Rob Johnson: $14.85 ($28.41 with independent expenditures)
Michael Maddux: $8.40
District 5 (north)
Debora Juarez: $9.99 ($14.08 with independent expenditures)
Sandy Brown: $29.31
District 6 (northwest)
Mike O'Brien: $3.41
Catherine Weatbrook: $5.77 ($7.35 with independent expenditures)
District 7 (downtown)
Sally Bagshaw: $4.96
Deborah Zech-Artis: $0 (Zech-Artis didn't raise any money)
Position 8 (citywide)
Tim Burgess: $3.81
Jon Grant: $1.03 ($1.32 with independent expenditures)
Position 9 (citywide)
Lorena González: $1.55
Bill Bradburd: $3.28
If you're interested enough in this stuff that you made it all the way to the end of this post, you should definitely check out political consultant Ben Anderstone's analysis of the primary results on Crosscut. Among his conclusions:
What’s causing [incumbent Council President Tim Burgess] trouble? Liberal and working-class neighborhoods, mostly. Burgess is polling poorly in Georgetown (19 percent), around Broadway on Cap Hill (32 percent), the Central District (33), and Columbia City (34). These are very similar results to Richard Conlin’s 2013 primary showing, before he ultimately lost to Sawant. Compared to Conlin, Burgess is a bit stronger in middle-class neighborhoods, and a bit weaker in blue-collar and minority areas. However, older, wealthier voters boosted Burgess back up near 50 percent. His best showings were Madison Park (70 percent), View Ridge (72), and ultra-wealthy Washington Park (76).