HOUSING LEVY WINS, VIADUCT PARK DIES: The results were unequivocal for the two Seattle ballot measures that voters weighed in on last night. The housing levy—the biggest housing levy in the city's history and double the previous housing levy—passed with 68 percent of the vote. The viaduct park—a plan to replace the viaduct with a stupid "garden bridge"—was absolutely crushed with 81 percent of voters rejecting it.
Among the night's big winners was political consultant Sandeep Kaushik, who worked on the pro-housing-levy and anti-viaduct-park campaigns. As the party for the levy wound down at Optimism Brewing, Kaushik sat at a long wooden table with a laptop and plastic cup of white wine. "It's not just that the housing levy won, but the margin was bigger than any housing levy in the past, even though we were doubling the previous levy," Kaushik said in an interview. "What that says is voters in Seattle are hungry for action. They're not seeking the status quo. They're not trying to stop stuff. They understand the city is growing and is challenged by that growth and that we need to act to address it."
If Kaushik's luck holds, voters will take the same approach to Sound Transit 3—the massive light rail measure on this fall's ballot across Puget Sound. Kaushik is working for that campaign, too. New taxes in Seattle are often met with talk of "levy fatigue," the fear of "won't taxpayers ever get sick of saying "yes?!" But that hasn't proven a real threat in recent years. Big levies, like last year's $900 million Move Seattle transportation package and this $290 million housing levy, have passed easily inside the City of Seattle. The test now will be whether that can be amplified—ST3 totals $54 billion—and then applied throughout the whole region, not just Seattle.
"You don't get to 70 percent unless everyone is agreeing we can't just run in place, we've got to move forward," Kaushik said. "I'm optimistic voters will say, 'Let's finally build the regional transit system we should have had a generation ago.'” —HEIDI GROOVER
IN SEATTLE'S 7TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, A CLEAR WINNER BUT NO CLEAR SECOND-PLACE FINISHER: We understand how Pramila Jayapal got 38.21 percent of the initial ballot drop vote. She's raised $1.2 million and was endorsed by a number of members of the US Congress and by
Dumbledore Bernie Sanders himself. We like Jayapal for all the same reasons other people do: She's got a strong record on immigrant rights, racial justice, and calling attention to economic inequality. And she's unafraid of using movement-building to push fellow politicians farther to the left. That's why we endorsed her!
But here's what we don't understand: How did Joe McDermott, a King County Council member who raised just $425,900 and had no surprising endorsements to speak of, manage to squeak into second place for the initial ballot count? Brady Piñero Walkinshaw, a hard-working, progressive state representative from Capitol Hill, got the endorsement of the Seattle Times and raised more than twice what McDermott did. At the moment Walkinshaw is 586 votes—just 586 votes!—behind McDermott.
It's no secret that Joe McDermott had some undeserved name recognition working for him; the 14-term Congressman who previously held this seat was Jim McDermott. So can that undeserved name recognition now be quantified? Is it worth the $460,000 difference between McDermott and Walkinshaw's campaigns? Predicting which of the two of them will make it into the general election with Jayapal is impossible right now; it's just way too early to call. But late voters do tend to be younger voters, and younger voters are who Walkinshaw is hoping will push him onto the November ballot. —SYDNEY BROWNSTONE
GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE IS DOING GREAT, AND MIGHT DO EVEN BETTER WITHOUT THE GOODSPACEGUY EFFECT: There was never any question that Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee would make it through the August primary for the governor's race. There was never any question that Inslee's Republican rival, former Seattle port commissioner Bill Bryant, would, too. Right now, it looks like Inslee got 48.57 percent of the primary vote, and Bryant scored 38.14 percent. Inslee is solidly in the lead, has raised roughly three times the amount of money Bryant has, and this state hasn't had a Republican governor in 31 years. But watch out for the general.
Bryant is pounding Inslee hard on the Department of Corrections computer glitch scandal, and if there's a big terrorist attack between now and November, Republicans may get more downballot support for their ticket. We're cautiously optimistic that we're being paranoid about the possibility of a Republican holding the highest executive office in the state, but in the meantime, WHO ARE THE 8,485 OF YOU WHO VOTED FOR GOODSPACEGUY? DO WE NEED TO SPELL IT OUT? EIGHT THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE OF YOU. DID YOU KNOW THAT GOODSPACEGUY DOESN'T BELIEVE IN A MINIMUM WAGE? DID YOU?! THE SECB WILL COME TO YOUR HOUSE AND ASK YOU WHY YOU VOTED FOR GOODSPACEGUY. WE WILL DO IT. SEND US AN E-MAIL AND WE WILL DO IT. —SYDNEY BROWNSTONE
NICOLE MACRI CRUSHED, BUT A REPUBLICAN ALSO DID SURPRISINGLY WELL IN CENTRAL SEATTLE: In the 43rd legislative district (Capitol Hill, Montlake, and the the U-District), Nicole Macri fucking crushed it, garnering nearly half of all votes (49 percent). It’s the widest margin of victory I saw in a major local primary race. Why? Well, it’s weird to talk about ourselves, but let’s be real: Macri ran a great campaign, but her huge win is also a testament to the power of the influence of the publication you’re reading right now. Capitol Hill is our home turf and we gave Macri our strong endorsement. The second-highest-vote-getter, Dan Shih, picked up the endorsement of the Seattle Times. He attracted just 25 percent of all votes, which means he has five months to close a 24 point gap.
Shih admitted on election night that his campaign—managed by a political novice fresh out of college—has a “lot of work to do.” But absent a major gaffe by Macri, the Deputy Director of the Downtown Emergency Services Center and a powerhouse housing advocate, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which she loses. (By the way, the adorably earnest Republican Zachary Zaerr? He pulled down seven percent! In the 43rd District! Does this mean roughly one out of thirteen people in the 43rd is a Republican? Whatever the reason... it’s kinda cute. Go Zach.) —ANSEL HERZ
BIG NAME INCUMBENTS SWEPT THEIR RACES: Unsurprisingly, some familiar big names were leading the polls, too. Senator Patty Murray, who has held her seat since 1993, took about 53 percent of votes in her race against #NeverTrump-er Chris Vance. Congresswoman Suzan DelBene won nearly 54 percent of votes in Congressional District 1, which she has represented for the past four years. Adam Smith, who has represented Congressional District 9—one of the state’s most diverse districts—since 1997, won about 57 percent of his district. Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, who has represented Congressional District 8 since 2005, earned about 58 percent of his district’s votes.
Unfortunately (especially in the case of Reichert), this isn't particularly surprising. Why? Because none of these candidates, who are all long-time incumbents, had strong challengers. It likely would’ve taken a wickedly popular and well-known Democrat to unseat someone like Smith, who has represented the 9th District for nearly 20 years. (Yes, we are still dreaming of a Congress that includes Pramila Jayapal representing the 9th and Brady Walkinshaw representing the 7th.) Without strong challengers, the bland smoothie of name recognition and familiarish faces will continue to beat out progress. —ANA SOFIA KNAUF
This post has been updated with a correction. Nicole Macri is the Deputy Director, not Executive Director, of the Downtown Emergency Services Center.