Black Lives Matter activist Nikkita Oliver is challenging Mayor Ed Murray.
Black Lives Matter activist Nikkita Oliver is challenging Mayor Ed Murray. HG

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The Seattle Times Editorial Board has a request for Mayor Ed Murray: Drop out of the race for mayor.

The ask comes not because they're sure he's guilty (they're not), but because his staying in the race could make him vulnerable and that could make room for someone a little too progressive to become mayor.

"If he runs under that cloud," the ed board writes about the sexual abuse allegations against Murray, "it increases the possibility of a Mayor Kshama Sawant, or some other extreme left-wing ideologue, steering this booming city wildly off course. An open field will draw better mainstream candidates who can build on Murray’s work."

The city needs a "strong executive," the board adds later, "to push back against off-kilter City Council ideas and to advocate for the city’s values with the Trump administration."

"Better mainstream candidates." Ah, yes, perhaps someone who, like the editorial board, opposes new funding for homelessness, fights light rail, supported hosting Shell's Arctic drilling fleet, claimed Council Member Mike O'Brien was "grandstanding" for opposing Shell, complains that Sawant's political style is "unbecoming," thought anti-police brutality protests in the wake of Ferguson were "doing more harm than good," repeatedly urges the city to "slow down" on building new housing*, uses flawed data to defend the county's misguided approach to sex work, and continues to complain about regressive taxes despite the fact that the last time they were given the chance to support a progressive statewide income tax, they refused.

Sawant, of course, is no fan of Ed Murray. But she is also not in the mayoral race and says she is not considering entering. Instead, she has informally endorsed Nikkita Oliver, a Black Lives Matter activist who closely aligns with Sawant's politics and announced in March she would take on the mayor. At Oliver's kickoff last month, Sawant stopped short of an official endorsement but praised Oliver's run as "an independent challenge to Seattle's corporate political establishment." (Sawant's party, Socialist Alternative, is likely to issue formal endorsements in the 2017 mayoral and city council races in the coming weeks.)

So, what the Times Editorial Board is really saying here is that damage to Murray's political viability could pave the way for Oliver's election.

In a statement issued by his personal spokesperson late this afternoon that totally isn't responding to the Times, Murray again vowed to stay in office and stay in the race.

"I will continue to run for re-election," the statement reads, "so that we can sustain and build upon the progress we have made in my first term advancing police reform, raising wages for thousands of Seattleites, addressing our homelessness crisis, building more affordable housing, closing racial disparities in our public schools, supporting black male achievement, battling climate change, creating vibrant, livable neighborhoods for all, standing up to the Trump Administration—and so much more. I am proud to be your mayor and ask for your continued support.”

*Nikkita Oliver may be closer to the Times' position on this issue than the ed board realizes.