When I met Christopher Rufo at a Ballard coffee shop two weeks ago, he was optimistic. A documentary filmmaker who has worked for PBS, Rufo had recently announced his candidacy for Seattle City Council's 6th District, currently held by Mike O'Brien, and while the election was many months away, he'd already gotten some constituent interest and media attention.
"I started getting dozens and then hundreds of messages from people saying, 'This is exciting. What are you doing? What's your platform? What do you want to see change?'" Rufo said. "A business owner just messaged me and said 'We're getting hammered because of how we're handling homelessness.' Someone reached out and said, 'Someone came at me with an axe in the middle of Ballard yesterday.' Victims of violent crimes have said, 'What can we do? We feel like we don't have a voice. No one cares about us.'"
Rufo hoped to be that voice. When I asked what he would do differently that the current city council, he offered to send me his white paper on effective ways to combat homelessness. Socially liberal and fiscally conservative, Rufo calls himself a centrist, and if elected to city council, he hopes to counter what he called the "activist class."
Make that hoped. On Wednesday, Rufo announced he was suspending his campaign due to ongoing harassment against his family. In a email to supporters, he wrote:
"I had hoped that this would be a campaign of ideas, but I quickly discovered that the activists in this city have no interest in ideas. Since the campaign launch, they have harassed and threatened my family nonstop. I was prepared to take the heat, but unfortunately, they have focused their hatred on my wife and children. They’ve made vile racist attacks against my wife, attempted to get her fired from Microsoft, and threatened sexual violence. They've even posted hateful comments on our 8-year-old son's school Facebook page. I know that as the race progresses, the activists will ratchet up their hate-machine and these attacks will intensify significantly."
Rufo said he would be returning all campaign donations over the next two weeks (according to filings with the city, he's received
$1,933 from 15 donors$22,745 from 106 donors). As for who has been targeting Rufo and his family, I've reached out to the one-time candidate and will update this post when I hear back.