Scott Kennedy ran for mayor.

Odds are pretty good that you didn't vote for him. Out of 116,865 votes for Seattle mayor cast in the September 18 primary, Kennedy got just 2,279. But even if you didn't vote for Kennedy, you probably saw his stickers around town, or his sign on his downtown campaign headquarters, or maybe you caught him crashing one of the many mayoral debates he wasn't invited to.

Scott Kennedy, the 34-year-old owner of Bitstar--a coffee shop on Bellevue Avenue East--had no political experience when he jumped into the mayor's race six weeks before the primary. Like other marginal and/or crazy mayoral candidates, Kennedy had no hope of being one of the two top vote-getters in the primary and going on to the general election. But unlike other marginal and/or crazy candidates, Kennedy struggled to put together a campaign that appeared credible, with flyers, pamphlets, position papers, and the candidate himself decked out in a business suit, pressed shirts, and power ties.

And for someone who has none of the experience or qualifications of a mainstream politician, Kennedy sure does talk like one.

"Dear Seattle: I am deeply moved by your overwhelming support of my candidacy for mayor," Kennedy says on his website. "Make no mistake: This race is critical to the long-term direction this city will take, and to the preservation of our quality of life."

For Kennedy, the quality of life he's championing is spelled out in his campaign platform: government accountability, mass transit, and affordable housing.

"Right now I'm scared to death that I'm going to have to move from Seattle," Kennedy says. "I'm going to be forced to, because the rents are going to escalate so high, or the homeless problem is going to get so bad, that it's just going to depress me."

His cafe, tucked into a residential area of Capitol Hill, hosts a few computers for patrons to use while drinking coffee. An old typewriter sits on a high table with a view of the bus stop outside. The tiny barista counter is crowded with an espresso machine and other drink-making equipment. Tucked into a corner of the shop is Kennedy's glass-walled office, from which he manages the cafe and his other business, Bitstar International (a successful software company), at the same time.

When I first met Kennedy, it was to ask him questions; The Stranger was profiling him and two other alternative mayoral candidates. He hadn't returned our calls, so I walked down to the cafe and found Kennedy at his desk, running his two businesses and fielding phone calls.

Kennedy, a genuinely nice guy, offered me coffee every time I dropped by Bitstar, and did his best to accommodate a reporter trailing his campaign. He describes himself as a laid-back manager at his cafe, which he opened with money left over from a previous software venture. He figured he spent most of his free time hanging out in coffee shops, so why not own one? But while Kennedy has brains enough to run two businesses at once, he didn't have brains enough to see that a campaign for mayor was a waste of his time and money.

Kennedy claims he jumped into the race after he began reading about the other candidates. Initially, he wanted to find someone he could get behind, and maybe even join someone else's campaign. But Kennedy didn't think that any of the issues he felt were important--affordable housing, homelessness, government accountability--were being addressed by the three main candidates.

"In February, I started looking into all the candidates," Kennedy said. "And every single time I found that there is no way that I could morally bring myself to vote for them."

All three big candidates talked a lot about Mayor Schell's blunders--including Paul Schell, who ran a bizarre series of ads reminding voters of his many screw-ups--but Kennedy also found fault with the other two. Nickels' work on the Sound Transit budget committee bothered Kennedy, for instance, as did Sidran's statements on light rail. (Sidran claims he will stop Sound Transit's plan, but Kennedy argues that a mayor doesn't have enough power to do that.)

"I'm not like the greatest candidate for political office. I do feel like I'm better than those three. I feel like I'm better than everyone else, actually. It comes across as cocky," Kennedy told me before the primary, "but if I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't be running. Period. End of story."

After what he says was a long period of consideration, Kennedy jumped into the race in late June. His campaign officially kicked off a month later--with a party on August 2, just six short weeks before the primary, at the Petroleum Museum on the corner of East Pine Street and Bellevue Avenue in Capitol Hill. His press release urged people to spread the word "that a practical, trustworthy, viable alternative candidate is running."

Kennedy secured a prime site for his campaign headquarters--on Denny Way and Stewart Avenue, in the shadow of I-5. According to SeaTran, Seattle's transportation office, that intersection averages 26,400 cars every weekday. Hundreds of thousands of drivers saw the red, white, and blue sign atop Kennedy's headquarters in the weeks leading up to the primary.

Kennedy put up a website, and began attending the forums he was invited to and crashing the forums he wasn't invited to. He distributed flyers and stickers and made the rounds of Seattle neighborhoods, trying to meet as many people as he could before the September 18 primary. And, again, he did most of this public work in a suit and tie, dressing the part of a politician.

Kennedy campaigned on a few big issues: accountability, affordable housing, and mass transit. In place of political experience, Kennedy pointed to his experience running small businesses, helping homeless people one-on-one, and collecting signatures for last year's monorail initiative.

"I spend my time politically on an individual level," Kennedy said. "Voting for who I want, mouthing off the way that I want, taking care of people when I want, and just making personal choices. I like living that way, activist one-on-one."

Kennedy thought his particular life experiences--and his newcomer status--would be an asset in the race. Career politicians like Greg Nickels aren't right for the job, according to Kennedy. He thinks the city needs a fresh perspective, one that he feels he could provide.

"There is no way that Greg Nickels sits down and goes, 'Hmm, maybe I'll run and maybe I won't, let me first see who else is running. Let me decide if the job is right for me,'" Kennedy says. "No. He's a career politician, so what he does is he just runs and runs and runs."

And if elected, Kennedy promised to revamp the executive office and radically restructure city government. Kennedy didn't detail his plan, saying only that once he got into the mayor's office he would "rearrange" the way the city works (in 100 days). Then he could sit back and relax, he said, because the city could run forever on his "efficiency model," as if Seattle were a real-life version of the computer game SimCity.

Is it any surprise that voters didn't take him seriously?

Kennedy got the attention of The Stranger on July 20, when a man in a gorilla suit descended on the editorial office with a dozen pizzas in hand, along with a press release urging us to "be the first paper to call this the four-way race that it soon will be."

While Kennedy scored a half-endorsement from Seattle's political rag Eat the State, and had a front-page profile in the Capitol Hill Times, which was blown up and displayed in the window of his cafe and at his campaign headquarters, he hardly registered on the daily papers' radar. One story in The Seattle Times quoted Kennedy as saying he was tired of being "king of the dipshits," referring to his status as the top alternative candidate, and the Seattle P-I's coverage of Kennedy consisted mostly of describing the time he jumped onstage at a candidate forum about transportation--featuring Sidran, Schell, and Nickels--and was escorted offstage.

The weekly papers largely ignored him too--The Stranger gave some ink to Kennedy, Caleb Schaber, and Christal Wood in August with individual profiles, and Seattle Weekly mentioned Kennedy a few times in passing.

Yet despite the uphill media battle, Kennedy thinks he fared well in the public spotlight--certainly better than the other dipshit mayoral candidates, like Richard Lee, who believes Kurt Cobain was murdered, and Omari Tahir-Garrett, who allegedly smacked Mayor Schell in the face with a megaphone.

"I got lucky with the Capitol Hill Times, and I actually got a lot more coverage than a lot of people would get never running for office before," Kennedy says.

But the fact that he was dismissed as an endorsement option by both weekly papers pissed him off. The primary is supposed to narrow the field, Kennedy pointed out, but by only focusing on the three major candidates the local alternative media narrowed the field before the primary even took place.

But even editorial boards that weren't particularly fond of any of the three major candidates (many of the local endorsements featured acknowledgments that no one running is ideal for the job) refused to take Kennedy seriously, he complained. By endorsing him, a local paper would have given Kennedy's campaign the very legitimacy that papers were telling him he lacked. It's curious, circular logic: Seattle media didn't endorse Kennedy because he wasn't a serious candidate, Kennedy says, but the media could've made him into a serious candidate by endorsing him.

With no backing from local media, Kennedy attempted to use creative strategies to reach voters.

One of his tactics was rock and roll, on the roof of his campaign headquarters. The tiny building had just enough room for a band and its equipment, and Kennedy lined up bands for three Sunday afternoon concerts.

The first concert, on August 26, featured a Beatles cover band. During the September 9 show, a handful of people sat in the gravel parking lot in front of the building, on top of cars, or in a makeshift lounge complete with sofas and a rug.

When I arrived, during the second of three bands, there were about a dozen people milling about, waiting for something to happen. At least half of the people there were friends of the bands, and the other half were Kennedy's friends. Cars would stop--glancing at the oddity of a full band on the roof of a building, playing to a minuscule audience--and then keep going once the light turned green. A Kennedy volunteer tried to capitalize on the stopped cars by offering flyers for the candidate.

Mayoral write-in candidate Christal Wood, the unchallenged queen of the dipshits, ran around the parking lot chasing a balloon with a few children. She later stood at the rooftop podium to encourage people to vote for "just about anybody who's not an incumbent."

At this point, it was clear to everyone except Scott Kennedy that his campaign was going nowhere. Ten days away from the primary, Kennedy's promised "four-way race" hadn't materialized. The candidate was only drawing in a dozen people to a free outdoor concert that included the opportunity to meet one of the other fringe candidates.

"There should have been a zillion people there, but whatever," Kennedy says, explaining the lackluster attendance. "It's summertime, it's in a parking lot--next time I'll do it at a club."

By early September, Kennedy was frustrated that the same issues--transportation and Schell's leadership--were the focus of every debate. He wanted to be on the panel to change the dialogue, if not to get exposure as a candidate.

But with a dozen candidates on the ballot, most forum organizers sought to avoid chaos by sticking with the three major candidates, and occasionally inviting Charlie Chong. For the fringe candidates, it was all of them or no one--forum organizers rarely make the judgment call to pick the highest quality alternative candidates to join the political heavyweights. Kennedy was told by some that the bar for getting into the forums was having a political record. But he was invited to several smaller candidate forums, notably the August 27 discussion of the arts--where every candidate turned out, and Richard Lee turned it into a circus, wearing a skirt and toting a video camera.

Surprisingly, Kennedy wasn't for opening up all the forums to all the fringe candidates.

"It would be easier to cover five [candidates]. It would be easier for forum sponsors to have all five," Kennedy said before the primary. "When there's 12 views, they tend to get lost in the shuffle a little bit."

Kennedy's views are among those that were lost in the shuffle during the primary election. Since no one came up with a system that included Kennedy but kept the loonies at home, he forced himself into a few debates, like the September 6 transportation forum that he was not invited to, at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard. Instead of sitting back and watching, Kennedy jumped onstage to announce that he, too, was running for mayor and should be a part of the debate. Although he was escorted from the stage, he did garner an interview on KUOW the next morning.

So how did the main candidates react to Kennedy when he arrived at forums in a dress shirt and tie, looking the part of the serious candidate?

"They're not threatened by me at all," Kennedy said. "They've been very nice."

The fact that the big three weren't threatened by Kennedy should have been a message to him: He didn't have a chance.

On September 11, one week before the primary, I had an appointment to sit down with Kennedy and pick his brain. Our meeting was interrupted by events on the East Coast. Kennedy spent much of the day calling relatives and friends in New York, where he used to live. By late afternoon, Kennedy had forgotten all about campaigning and was rounding up candles, preparing for a peace rally at Westlake Center that evening.

As socialists, radical women, hecklers, and peace protesters gathered at Westlake, Kennedy--decked out in his neatly pressed pants, a crisp white shirt, and a patriotic red tie--took to the stage and implored people to help make the world movement toward globalization a positive one, through peace activism. He didn't mention his campaign, though he was introduced as a candidate.

After the last speakers stepped down, with the Seattle Police Department threatening to break up the rally if it extended past its permitted time, Kennedy led a parade of 50 up Pine Street, across Broadway in Capitol Hill, and over to Volunteer Park, where one of his friends was leading a candlelight vigil. During the course of the uphill trek, Kennedy and I chatted about the race, trying to make up for our cancelled interview.

On September 12, back at Bitstar, I sat down with Kennedy in his coffee shop's back room, which doubles as one of Kennedy's residences (he also crashes at his girlfriend's place or at his other Capitol Hill loft).

"I know that the way to enter into politics is a very specific pre-set series," Kennedy said. "I've met tons of people who've said, 'We will not only back and support you, but we will endorse you, if you were running for city council.'"

So why didn't he run for city council?

Kennedy realizes he could feasibly run for city council as a political nobody, campaign on issues like affordable housing and homelessness, and point to his background as a community activist. Current council members Nick Licata and Judy Nicastro campaigned on these issues and their records as community activists and won. Once in the city council, he could build up a political record, network with other politicos, and earn some name recognition, and perhaps launch a viable mayoral bid at some distant point in the future.

But Kennedy didn't want to pay his dues. He has no interest in the day-to-day legislating that comes with a city council seat and, he insisted, Seattle needed him in the mayor's office now. By the time he would be ready for a "major" candidacy, he said, the need for him as a mayor might not be there.

"I more saw this as a need that pops up," Kennedy said. "I was like, oh shit, this city is in trouble, and I started looking for things I could do. Who can I back? I can design stuff. I know something about politics. I'm not afraid to speak publicly. I shouldn't be out handing flyers. That's important, but I have more to give."

Kennedy tried to cut some deals with two of September 18's other big losers in the days before the primary. Kennedy spoke with Charlie Chong several times toward the end of the campaign, after the Seattle P-I endorsement interview and at the August 27 candidate arts forum. Chong and Kennedy discussed political strategy; mostly they discussed the need to get someone besides Schell, Sidran, or Nickels through to the general election. Those conversations went nowhere, obviously, as the general election will be Sidran versus Nickels.

Though Kennedy hesitated to discuss the details of his conversations with Chong before the primary (he didn't want to jeopardize any potential political alliances), it seemed possible that one of the two would withdraw from the race and back the other. There was also potential to get some of the other minor candidates on board, to pool resources and volunteers in backing a single candidate versus the top three.

But nothing materialized from these talks. If Kennedy and Chong had joined forces earlier in the race--and if they enlisted even half of the other minor candidates--the grassroots effort may have gotten attention. The nearly 13,000 votes that were split between the nine alternative candidates would still add up to a fourth-place finish (with only half the number of votes third-place Schell garnered), but it would have been noticed. But the washed-up populist and the political novice couldn't get their acts together.

Stranger than his contact with Chong were Kennedy's interactions with the Schell campaign. Supporters of the mayor approached Kennedy about joining the Schell campaign if the mayor made it through the primary. Kennedy says a Schell staffer told him the mayor was impressed with the three-point plan about government accountability on Kennedy's website. The Schell camp didn't indicate exactly what they had in mind for Kennedy--he didn't have many volunteers or a large support base to toss to Schell--but Kennedy was toying with the idea of speaking on Schell's behalf after the primary was over.

Schell, of course, is one of the men Kennedy said he couldn't "morally bring [himself] to vote for." Kennedy even told The Stranger in August that the biggest problem facing Seattle was poor mayoral leadership (i.e., Schell), but just before the primary he was considering backing the incumbent.

After the September 18 primary polls closed, Kennedy and his supporters gathered at his campaign headquarters at Denny and Stewart to wait for the numbers. His girlfriend was there, along with a buddy who stopped by after work, and three campaign volunteers who seemed to be there for the beer more than anything. My arrival made six.

When it was clear that the numbers rolling across the bottom of the screen on local stations listed only the top two mayoral candidates (Sidran and Nickels), Kennedy and company changed the channel--to The Simpsons. The three large pizzas soon arrived, accompanied by more than enough beer for the modest party.

Later that night, Kennedy ended up a few blocks away at city council candidate Grant Cogswell's primary party, at Re-bar. He joked that he should have brought the extra pizza that his supporters couldn't finish.

A week later, Kennedy's stickers are still plastered on light poles and windows around Capitol Hill, and his website is still up and running, artifacts of his campaign. A mug shot of Kennedy is still up in his campaign headquarters at Denny and Stewart, and the large sign counting down the days until the primary election sports a large zero.

Nickels and Sidran's campaigns appear to be taking a breather before they rip each other apart on the way to the general election in November. Meanwhile, Kennedy is considering his next move, political or otherwise. Schell is out of the picture and Kennedy hasn't had any other requests for political support. Though the daily papers clamored to hear who Schell might endorse for the general election, no one has asked Kennedy his preference (he doesn't have one--in fact, he says he might not vote for either one).

Kennedy has returned to the day-to-day operation of his cafe and software company, which are in need of his attention after he spent much of the last month and a half running his campaign. He's also broke. The cash he contributed to his campaign was the last of the money from one of his previous software sales. And he's toying with the idea of running as a write-in candidate for November's election, though he acknowledges that most people still don't know who he is.

Kennedy doesn't regret the time and effort he put into this race. And he insists that his run was not a vanity campaign.

"I had to believe that there was a possibility that I'd win in order to spend the amount of money that I spent," Kennedy said. "If we had another go next year, I would get more votes than I did this year. I know it."

Spoken like a true Kennedy.