The King County Young Democrats, a group for the politically active Democratic youths in the area (in this case "youth" means 36 years old and younger), recently released their endorsements for the 2019 election. All the way at the bottom of their endorsements page is the category "Do Not Vote For Under Any Circumstances." There is only one name there: Ari Hoffman, Seattle City Council District 2 candidate.
"To my knowledge," Derek Richards, KCYD Chair told The Stranger, "this is the first time we have ever given any candidate that distinction in the history of the organization."
The KCYD endorsed Tammy Morales, the community organizer who almost unseated Councilmember Bruce Harrell in 2015, and Phyllis Porter, a community and bicycle advocate, for District 2. Additionally, as Lester Black pointed out on Friday, KCYD did not endorse Kshama Sawant in District 3, but instead two of her competitors, Ami Nguyen, and Zachary DeWolf.
"At the end of our endorsements meeting on Sunday, May 19 one of our members made a 'do not vote for' motion that was approved unanimously by the membership in attendance. We do a similar thing for initiatives," Richards explained, "for example, we said to vote no on the latest Eyman initiative and this was essentially an extension of the same kind of motion."
The difference was that they couldn't vote "no" on a candidate. The only option is endorsing an opponent, but that didn't seem strong enough. That's how the group—the 48 members in attendance at the endorsements meeting—arrived at the "do not vote for under any circumstances" label.
Hoffman said that he had not been contacted by KCYD.
"I find it entertaining that an organization would say 'do not vote for under any circumstances' about someone they have not met and someone they excluded from their forums," Hoffman told The Stranger in an email.
According to Richards, KCYD has had two regular membership meetings this year that were open for candidates to speak at. Additionally, the first half of their endorsements meeting on May 19 was dedicated to candidates. Richards said 60 showed up.
"Ari Hoffman has had his opportunities to speak to us, but for whatever reason has never chosen to take those," Richards said.
Perhaps the forum Hoffman is referring to was the Seattle City Council forum on April 28 where KCYD only invited three candidates from each district. For D2, they invited Christopher Peguero, Phyllis Porter, and Tammy Morales.
As for why the KCYD members gave Hoffman "that unique distinction," Richards can only assume. But, he had some ideas.
"I assume [members] have heard him on NRA TV..."
"...Or caught his social media postings where he lied about a homeless person being beheaded and thought that endorsing his opponents Tammy Morales and Phyllis Porter was not going far enough," Richards said.
This is Safe Seattle's city council candidate, Ari Hoffman, trying to bolster his campaign by spreading a completely false story about a homeless, drug addicted, axe murderer cutting off people's heads. This is disqualifying, and Hoffman should end his campaign immediately. pic.twitter.com/6vylPgK63M
— Spek (@spekulation) March 11, 2019
Hoffman's campaign consultant, Mario Brown, also reached out to The Stranger. Brown was confused about why a Democratic political party would endorse a "true independent" like Hoffman. Brown describes Hoffman as being a Democrat until 9/11 happened while he was living in New York City.
"[Hoffman] thought that the Republicans would be stronger on defense having lived through the attack," Brown explained over email. "He found out quickly that he did not fit into the Republican party either and stopped formally engaging them. I have great respect for a true independent... We would never seek the endorsement of either party for Ari since he is not part of either party."
KCYD has not heard from Hoffman nor his supporters on the endorsement, Richards said.
"My general sense is they are starting to lose steam and see that a best-case scenario for them is losing by 60 points in the general election," Richards said.