Ever since her last-minute entry into the crowded race against Seattle City Council incumbent Judy Nicastro, an air of inevitably has swirled around Jean Godden. Even on election night, when Godden's victory over the first-term incumbent's five other challengers was uncertain, the former Seattle Times columnist radiated nothing but the utmost confidence. From her perch behind a too-tall microphone placed on a tiny stage in the posh, dimly lit confines of the Pampas Room in Belltown, Godden declared the numbers "very encouraging," and predicted "a mood change" among the Seattle electorate. Soon after, Godden all but declared victory on her website (www.electgodden.com), claiming her primary-night success "secures [me] a place on the general election ballot."

At presstime Tuesday afternoon, September 23, with roughly 95 percent of the absentee ballots counted, it appeared Godden's confidence had been confirmed. Nicastro finished first in the seven-way primary with 25.02 percent of the vote; Godden followed second with 17.69 percent.

Godden's victory is not yet assured. Landlord Robert Rosencrantz ended Tuesday with 17.55 percent, and trails Godden by a mere 155 votes. But with only a few hundred ballots left to be counted, Rosencrantz is unlikely to pass Godden in the final tally, which will be released Friday afternoon.

If the numbers hold up, says Godden's consultant, Cathy Allen, in the general election Godden will work "to reach voters that didn't vote in the primary." To that end, Allen says, Godden will spend her time attending public forums in an effort to court a slightly younger set of potential Godden supporters. "Instead of over 65, we now go for over 55," says Allen.

Political consultant Christian Sinderman, who is not working for either Godden or Nicastro, says Godden's win puts Nicastro in a tough political position. "It's hard to go negative on someone who's older and thought of in a positive way," Sinderman explains. Allen predicts that most of the votes that went to Kollin Min and Robert Rosencrantz--who both ran overtly negative campaigns--will go to Godden. "There's a reason people weren't voting for [Nicastro] to begin with," Allen says.

But Nicastro claims Godden will have a tough time appealing to younger general-election voters more concerned with issues than "maturity." "She has no record," Nicastro says. "Her 'record' is a gossip column about quaint little license plates. Jean has written some amusing columns that I've enjoyed, but where she is on substantive policy, nobody knows."

Nicastro's challenges, meanwhile, will be dissociating herself from the scandals that have dogged her throughout the campaign and proving to voters that she, not Godden, is the mature, experienced leader in the race.

Judging from the high-voltage anti-landlord speech Nicastro delivered on primary night, it was clear which opponent the tenants' advocate would have preferred: Rosencrantz, a landlord whose by-the-bootstraps, libertarian-tinged politics provided a sharper contrast than Godden's standard-Seattle liberalism. "He's more of a clear alternative ideologically to Judy," says Sinderman, "which gives her a chance to stick to her core message."


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