Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan has received a significant—if unsurprising—boost in her bid for mayor: the endorsement of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce's political arm.
"In a crowded field, [Durkan] is a highly competent candidate who stands apart for her gravitas and ability to make tough decisions," said Markham McIntyre, executive director of the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), in a statement.
The Chamber represents 2,200 Seattle businesses and its political action committee, CASE, is a major player in local elections. In 2015's city council elections, CASE spent nearly $59,000 on polling and research and more than $250,000 in support of several city council candidates.
Durkan announced her campaign this month after Mayor Ed Murray, facing sexual abuse allegations, decided he would no longer seek re-election. She immediately became a frontrunner. Durkan has swept up some former Murray endorsers, like Seattle City Council member Sally Baghsaw, and her campaign reports it has already raised more than $100,000.
Along with Durkan, CASE today endorsed Council Member Lorena González in her re-election campaign for council Position 9 and Fremont Brewing owner Sara Nelson in her run for citywide council Position 8.
In 2015, CASE spent $150,000 on an independent expenditure in support of Council Member Tim Burgess. That year, tenant advocate Jon Grant was challenging Burgess for his council seat. This year, Burgess is retiring and Grant is running again in the same race as Nelson. That means Nelson could receive significant support from CASE in an effort to propel her through the August primary and on to the November election.
In its announcement, CASE cited traffic and homelessness as important issues. Then, there were these two incredibly vague priorities:
3. Seattle is experiencing incredible prosperity, however some people are being left behind. CASE supports candidates who will help grow local businesses, expand family-wage jobs, and encourage building housing for people of all income levels.
4. Seattle is rapidly growing and changing. CASE supports candidates who understand what makes Seattle great, and will uphold those values while continually striving to make Seattle the best city in the nation.
In fact, the Chamber's priorities are pretty self-explanatory. Last year, the Chamber fought a proposal to tax businesses to fund labor law enforcement and an ordinance to give hourly workers more control over their work schedules. (González sponsored that scheduling legislation, but has no credible challenger for her seat, making CASE's endorsement unsurprising.)
Chamber CEO Maud Daudon also argued last year that businesses should get as much funding to educate them about labor laws as worker organizations receive.
Over the next year, the Seattle City Council could consider a proposal from González to mandate that all employers in the city give their workers paid family leave. The council will also consider a city income tax. Either of those proposals could meet business resistance. When asked about the income tax earlier this month, Durkan was noncommittal. So was Nelson, who didn't have an answer on mandated paid family leave, either.