Earlier this year, it looked like Mayor Ed Murray was a shoo-in for reelection in this year’s mayoral race. He had netted over $400,000 in contributions, and his only serious challenger was Nikkita Oliver, the lawyer and educator running with the new Peoples Party.
Everything changed when the Seattle Times published three separate accounts from men alleging Murray sexually abused them when they were minors more than three decades ago. The mayor’s race swelled to 21 candidates, six of whom are serious contenders. Murray dropped out, and city politicos wondered where his support would go. If money is any tell, the answer is Jenny Durkan.
Durkan, a former U.S. Attorney who has never held elected office, received $31,133 from 55 donors that had previously donated to Murray’s mayoral bid, according to the latest campaign finance reports. Those Murray donors account for 19.4 percent of all the funds donated to Durkan’s campaign.
Support from Murray's donations helped Durkan jumped to a quick lead in campaign financing, raising more than $160,000 in less than month since she filed her candidacy on May 12. She has been endorsed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, former Governor Chris Gregoire and King County Council Member Joe McDermott.
Durkan also has the support of two city council members that were formerly Murray supporters. Council Member Sally Bagshaw donated $500 to Durkan on May 15 after donating $100 to Murray last October. Council Member Tim Burgess gave $500 to Durkan on May 18 after giving $500 to Murray last October. Burgess’s wife, Joleen Burgess, also gave $500 to both Durkan and Murray.
Bagshaw said she is supporting Durkan because of her “thoughtful approach to civil rights and social justice issues.”
“It’s a tragedy around what’s happened around Mayor Murray. Whether it’s true or not, either way it’s a tragedy, and Jenny is someone that I have tremendous amount of respect for and I’m glad she’s willing to run,” Bagshaw said.
Bagshaw said she developed respect for Durkan after working on the state’s marriage equality campaign in 2012 and working in city’s legal community together. Bagshaw was an attorney at the King County Prosecutor’s Office while Durkan was working as a private attorney in Seattle.
“There are some good candidates that are running and I think she just rises to the top,” Bagshaw said.
Burgess was not available for comment for this story.
No other candidate came close to raising as much from former Murray donors as Durkan. Former Mayor Mike McGinn, who is running for mayor again after losing his own reelection fight to Murray in 2013, attracted three former donors of Murray, totally $1,000.
Nikkita Oliver, an attorney and activist, raised $455 from four donors that had previously given to Murray. Cary Moon, an urban designer and prominent critic of the Highway 99 tunnel, raised $350 from two donors that had previously given to Murray’s campaign.
Overall, Oliver is in second place for fundraising as of Monday, pulling in $50,784. McGinn has raised $27,045 and Moon has raised $12,715. The field of 21 candidates will be winnowed down to the top two candidates after a primary vote on August 1. The general election will be held November 7.