Seattle will inaugurate its first woman as mayor since 1926. And it looks like former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan will be the one to beat in the November general election.
Tuesday night returns showed Durkan receiving nearly twice as many votes (31.6 percent) as runner-up Cary Moon (15.56 percent), the urban planner and SECB endorsee. Nikkita Oliver, the attorney and educator, came in third with 13.9 percent of votes, while former State Rep. Jessyn Farrell trailed with 11.8 percent.
Durkan appears to have the top spot on lock, but who else advances to the general election is anybody’s guess. Last night’s returns only represent about half the projected ballots that will be counted by King County in the coming days. While most of the votes tallied so far came from older Seattleites, younger and left-leaning voters tend to cast their ballots later.
If Moon or Oliver make it through, which appears likely, Seattle’s mayoral race will once again pit an establishment politician with deep Democratic ties against an outsider whose political influence grew from activism.
Durkan’s political rise began more than a decade ago, when she defended the Democratic Party and former Gov. Christine Gregoire against a suit from Republicans challenging the 2004 election results. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed her U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, making her the first openly gay federal prosecutor in the country. She announced her run for mayor a couple days after Mayor Ed Murray ended his re-election campaign amid allegations that he sexually assaulted teenagers in the 80s. Not long after that, Durkan received Murray’s endorsement and loads of cash from the mayor’s supporters.
Keeping in character with her cookie-cutter political campaign, Durkan offered a delivered a platitudinal speech to supporters at a bierhalle whose name Sydney Brownstone could not pronounce.
“Seattle, as I said when I launched, has always been the city that invented the future. We will reinvent the future of America through the cities and I believe Seattle will lead,” she said.
Moon became known in Seattle for her activism against the Alaska Viaduct replacement tunnel. Working with the political consulting group Moxie Media, she announced her run for mayor less than two weeks after Murray dropped out of the race. Her signature policy proposal is a tax on foreign speculators who buy property as investments without actually living in Seattle, an idea Durkan has called “Trumpian.”
Moon and literally everyone else at her poorly-attended party were caught off guard by her good night. After all, polls leading up to the election showed her in single digits. When the returns came in, her supporters shrieked and got trashed. When Stranger social media manager Chase Burns approached Moon during the pandemonium, she held off on celebrating and called for Seattle progressives to train their eyes on The Enemy.
“I feel really excited around building a coalition around the progressives—except Jenny Durkan,” she said. “It's time for politics to change in this town whether that means we're second or third."
Oliver emerged in recent years as a movement leader and reliable presence at local protests, including rallies against plans to build a new police station in the North Precinct and juvenile detention facility in Central District. Outside of her activism, Oliver writes slam poetry and works for Creative Justice, an arts-based diversion program for juvenile defendants. She was the only serious candidate to announce her run before the allegations against Murray surfaced, and four members of The SECB dissented against Moon’s endorsement for her.
Oliver held her election night party at Washington Hall, her campaign headquarters. After returns come in, she told her crowd, “No matter what those numbers say, do not get into political apathy… We have nothing to mourn. We have everything to celebrate."
Everybody has already forgotten about State Sen. Bob Hasegawa and former Mayor Mike McGinn.