Manka Dhingra had recently gotten off the phone with former Vice President Joe Biden when her campaign staff invited the SECB and reporters from Crosscut and the Seattle Times into a backroom for five minutes with the most popular Democrat on the West Coast.
An edited transcript of our conversation follows...
SEATTLE TIMES: You talked about the tone of the campaign and divisiveness and the politics of tribalism. I was wondering if you could talk about how that played out in the campaign and how that affected you personally and how you dealt with that?
MANKA: From the very beginning, I knew this campaign was going to need the strength in communities. I came up with this tagline before I had any consultants, any campaign manager, because last year's election was rough. It pitted people against people. As a country, we are done with that. We need something hopeful. We need something to move forward on. And that's what strength in communities was all about.
CROSSCUT: Were you expecting the 10-point win? And Ms. Englund is not conceding yet. Do you think she can overcome the 10-point gap?
MANKA: So I absolutely did not expect the 10 point gap. I didn't expect it in the primaries either. So, I don't think the votes are there for her.
SECB: What did Biden say to you?
MANKA: He congratulated me and said I had done a good job with the campaign, and he was very excited for what he thought this meant for 2018.
TIMES: How long was the conversation?
MANKA: It was a few minutes. It actually took us a while to get connected because he was on a plane.
TIMES: What does this mean for next year in the legislature? What does it mean for Democrats to control all three branches of the state government?
MANKA: We can pass a capitol budget, absolutely do that. I would make sure we are protecting women's reproductive rights and that we are passing common sense gun control. The amount of gun violence in this country is out of control. We have to make sure, that as a state, people with a history of violence do not have a right to possess a firearm.
SECB: Do you still have the same position on a statewide income tax?
MANKA: We cannot have a statewide income tax.
That’s the name of the club, coined by a beaming Teresa Mosqueda following her defeat of Jon Grant for City Council Position 8. Cheers and screams filled the room when the numbers dropped. Nobody was surprised, and everyone seemed happy to keep celebrating.
Zachary DeWolf was introduced as the “the first openly LGBTQ—and the youngest—member ever elected to the Seattle school board. He started crying the second he mentioned his music school teacher, who was the reason, he said, that he was here today. Bless him. SECB is here because of the arts too, DeWolf. He gathered himself for a bit of real talk: “First I have to thank you to my husband, because, holy shit, you’ve put up with this for six months.”
Then Lorena González’s turned up the brightness. "Seattle what’s up!? Alright, I’m going to be loud because I’m hella Latina,” she said. Then she launched into a list of the things she wanted to do: build on the work she’s already started in council and continue to fight for police reform. “I’m so excited about these numbers, not just because I get to serve the Seattle city council for the next four years, but because I get to serve on the city council with Teresa Mosqueda. She’s my friend, my sister, my mamá. Over the next four years, everything and anything will be possible for us in the city-wide seat” Gonzalez said. She continued, maybe quoting SECB descenters: "Let me tell you a little bit about why. She gets shit done.” SECB speaks for the SECB descenters when we say they’re flattered.
Mosqueda took the mic ecstatic, overjoyed. “In order to win in Seattle, you must stand with labor. You must stand with the labor movement. You cannot divide us. We must stand united,” she said. She continued: "This election shows we believe women. We believe in their stories…we believe in their leadership.” She then led the crowd in a “When we fight, we win” chant.
After thanking Tim Burgess, saying she had “some big shoes to fill,” a mariachi band played and the three candidates danced with their partners.
SECB cut in rudely, but slowly—we were still a little high—to ask Mosqueda some questions.
Which policy is she most excited about implementing first? “I’m excited to work with my colleagues on equal pay and child care for kids,” she said. When SECB asked for a specific policy, Mosqueda directed us to her website.
And what words did she have for the mourning roses supporting SECB-endorsed candidate Jon Grant? “Now is the time to unite movements. We have got to see the intersectionality between what the labor movement fights for, what the LGBTQ movement fights for. We will not be divided as we fight this Trump agenda. It is not hyperbole to say he has us all in the crosshairs.”
When asked how he feels about the win, Michael Maddux, who was particularly vocal about his support of Mosqueda on Twitter, dismissed the SECB’s question about which job he’s angling for in the Mosqueda office and said, “This is about enjoying that we reject the idea that a mediocre white man is more accomplished than a very very accomplished woman of color. We’re electing someone who is inspiring, and I think voters saw that tonight.”
From the front row of supporters waiting for Jenny Durkan to speak, the SECB heard someone sneer “defeated urban planner Cary Moon.”
Durkan took the stage to applause from her supporters and, after thanking her campaign team, reminded everyone she had support from labor unions. (No mention of her support from Comcast, Amazon, or the Chamber of Commerce.) Durkan said her parents raised her to be “fierce and gentle” and that the city should be the same. “In this time of Trump, are we going to be fierce?” she said. “And for our neighbors in need, are we going to be gentle.”
On homelessness, the candidate who has defended the city’s current encampment sweeps said, “We believe everybody has a right to shelter and a home” and promised to “work as hard as we can to bring everyone inside until that happens.”
And, of course, the former U.S. attorney threw red meat to mainstream Democrats and won huge applause for it. She said Seattleites “believe in science” and pledged to fight the Trump administration.
“We really can show what it looks like when progressive values are put into action,” Durkan said. “And can I just say to Donald Trump: keep your hands off Seattle.”
The results came in and Grant’s beat. “Hey everybody,” Grant said without enthusiasm on the mic, “the results are in and there’s a couple things we need to talk about... Look, we’re behind.” It was quiet. A lovely looking woman wearing DSA plaid and cute Buddy Holly glasses cried. Grant didn’t admit defeat, but went on to list the campaign’s successes. “We’ve knocked on 50,000 doors,” he reminded to loud cheers. “Our solutions are not gonna go away. The time is now. It’s always been now. That’s what this campaign has been about. Look, I’m looking at the numbers too. I’m not happy... but I’m looking at a lot of red flannel right now. The DSA is a powerful institution that the democratic establishment needs to contend with.” Grant, holding back tears, promised to work with the DSA to continue to push their agenda.
“Look, we’re all here,” Grant continued, “there’s free beer.“ That there was, and the cluster of DSA members grab some and migrated to the kitchen for an impromptu meeting. Near the all gender bathrooms, someone commented, “Uh, I don’t wanna call that a concession speech but...um, it was a little down.”
In the dingy kitchen, the DSA congregation gathered in for an announcement. “What this means is we have to knock on 100,000 doors next time,” an organizer yells. “Win or loose, we’re going to keep pushing forward. Let’s celebrate what we did and what we’ve learned.” Another: “We dont' have a person in City Council who will be in our corner but we’re still gonna yell.”
Despite whatever vile things the SECB has written about incumbent City Attorney Pete Holmes in the past, he did, indeed, talk to us.
"It's been an intense race," the City Attorney says after SECB corners him. "I'm tired. I've been glad I had the opportunity to talk about what I've been doing for the last eight years, but at the same time, it's unfortunate that we had to spend time trying to remind people, no we don't have the highest property crime rate in the nation and no crime is not overwhelming in this city." (SECB wonders, is this shade?)
"I have a lot of confidence in Seattle voters," Holmes says after (wisely) declining to tell us who he voted for for mayor. "It's a well-educated, smart city, and we'll find out who wins soon enough."
And so we do. Moments after speaking with The Stranger, a cheer goes up in the crowd, followed by hugs all around. Pete Holmes will be city attorney once again.
While we wait for the obligatory victory speech, SECB runs into a man dressed for Burning Man in line at the (self-serve, nearly empty) bar. He's wearing a plaid cap, desert goggles, and a jacket covered in tropical plants. He looks extremely out of place, but seems like the most comfortable person there. He's known Pete forever, he says, and, hopefully unrelated to the race, "men like Harvey Weinstein, statistically, it's a lot of men who didn't have sisters." Good to know. The reason he voted for Pete Holmes, the man says, is his stance on weed.
Finally, the candidate speaks. He has a long list of thanks—wife, campaign, manager, and his lawyer, who successfully argued in court for the release of $45,000 in Democracy Vouchers last weekend. This windfall, Holmes noted, was only possible because the Seattle Police Officers Guild, Holmes' old enemy, ran a full-page ad in Sunday's Seattle Times reading, "RESCUE THIS CITY AND RESTORE INTEGRITY BY VOTING NO ON HOLMES." That ad, Holmes' said, put his opponent Scott Lindsay over the campaign donation limit, and released all those sweet, sweet Democracy Vouchers. Our current/future City Attorney Holmes then did the generous thing before retiring to enjoy his victory: He thanked SPOG.
The Redhook Brewery erupted in applause when early returns showed Manka Dhingra whomping Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund, a promising sign for the Democrats to take back control of the Washington State Senate, not to mention complete domination of the state governments on the West Coast.
Dhingra showed up on stage not long later to greater applause. She thanked her volunteers and supporters and Englund.
“Oh, she was full of shit," a woman sipping a Coke blurted out from the back, a shoutout that Dhingra tried her best not to acknowledge. Everybody laughed.
Moments later, she is still surrounded by a knot of supporters and well-wishers after the first ballot results dropped. People don't look somber or worried in here; they're still drinking and shooting the shit.
The first ballot drop shows 60 percent of the vote going to Jenny Durkan. Moon has 39 percent. Moon said if she was over 45 percent, she'd feel good. This doesn't look good. People in this crowded brewery don't seem to have noticed yet.
State senator Reuven Carlyle announced the first results to huge applause from the crowd of Durkan supporters: "The most qualified, capable, thoughtful, gracious, progressive, insightful, entrepreneurial, dignified, generous, great hope, unbelievably qualified woman, Jenny Durkan—60 percent!" (Carlyle and the crowd are also stoked about the results over in the 45th.)
The Times has called the mayor’s race for Durkan.
Durkan is set to speak sometime soon.
CITY COUNCIL POSITION 8
CITY COUNCIL POSITION 9
M. Lorena González
KING COUNTY SHERIFF
45TH LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT
Jinyoung Lee Englund
The SECB is pleased to see that we might actually be one of the youngest attendees ever to set foot in the election night party for Mitzi Johanknecht—until we realize we might actually also be the one of the least affluent attendees to ever set foot in the election night party for Mitzi Johanknecht.
So, the SECB thinks, this is West Seattle. The outdoor casual (parkas, jeans, sneakers) meets-polo-shirts look seems popular with the men, while embroidered vests and flowy, elegantly patterned scarves seem to be the order of the day for women (40% of which are sporting short haircuts). The women look wealthy and well-educated.
The men, for the most part, look impossibly barrel-chested, large, tough, with commanding presences and thick hands—cop types, thinks the SECB, suddenly getting nervous, and heading to the amazing spread that included no less than ten different types of cheeses.
Suddenly, the crowd erupts in cheers. Early results are in: Mitzi leads, 51% to 48%. “Concede already,” someone screams to the photo Urquhart on the television. As far as this crowd is concerned, it’s already over.
“That’s MS. Sheriff now,” Johanknecht’s wife says, while the crowd goes wild.
“It’s time to restore pride and dignity to the Sheriff’s office,” Mitzi says, and the crowd goes even wilder.
The SECB noticed Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw arrive and hang her coat up on the coat rack, so the SECB loitered to try to get a minute with the council member and Durkan backer and see how she was feeling about tonight.
Bagshaw: The last thing I want to talk about tonight is politics.
SECB: It’s election night.
Bagshaw: * attempts to go back to conversation *
SECB: I just want to know how you’re feeling about tonight.
Bagshaw: I’m feeling great and I’m with all my friends.
SECB: What’s your prediction?
Bagshaw: Nothing, that’s my prediction. Nothing.
Okay, the Hillman City Collaboratory is bumpin. Jon Grant, for all his sincere earnestness, knows how to throw a good DIY party for the kids. Immediately, we bee-lined through the crowded party to the keg, which was flanked by hip young organizers who look like they definitely got down with the Occupy movement. (Don’t worry, gluten free mamas—there’s wine and LaCroix, too.) The young Democratic Socialists of America that make up a large portion of this party are polite, chill, and eager to party. They help us with the keg that is harder to pump than we remember.
Grant stands at the back of the room in a casually unbuttoned suit jacket and admires his team of mostly young organizers decked out in red and black flannel. Shaun Scott, Grant’s field organizer who is also decked out in flannel (a symbol of participation among DSA members), makes an announcement to the room that “we’re here tonight, among other things, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.” Fists are put in the air! The snack table is devoured in minutes, minus the carrots, and the overall mood is optimistic. “We’ve knocked on over 50,000 doors,” Scott says to overwhelming cheers. The keg keeps pumpin’.
The SECB arrived at Old Stove Brewing, a shiny, wood-and-glass joint that makes up most of the newly renovated wing at Pike Place, at around 7 p.m. and checked in with local beard and historical journalist Knute Berger before trying to talk to people the SECB did not know. (Knute, is here on assignment to capture "what it all means," which the SECB is looking forward to.) The place wasn't quite packed, but it did look like a much better turnout than Moon's primary night party.
The SECB sat down with a family parked at one of the brewery's picnic-style tables, and as it happened, they're personal friends of Cary Moon's. Jon and Alex Allred, as well as David Newman, sent their kids to Pike Market Childcare and Preschool back in the day with Moon's daughter and son.
"The main thing is my belief that she's the candidate to push the needle to become the inclusive, affordable city that we need," Jon and Alex (the SECB did not write down who was talking at this exact moment, stupid, stupid SECB) said. "Jenny Durkan is going to be four more years of the status quo, and in four years our city is just going to be another San Francisco."
"We're right about there," David added.
"I don't want to live in a city of only wealthy white people," Alex said.
Alex said that for the decade-plus that she's known Cary Moon, she knows she's sincere and wants to collaborate. And recognizes that she has a lot to learn. "I hope the People's Party takes her up oncoming to work with her," Alex said.
The family the SECB met phone-banked for Moon. They're true believers. "It's weird to call Cary a politician," Jon said.
The SECB thought these people seemed nice and dreaded the thought of the ballot drop at 8 p.m. "So," the SECB asked, changing the subject, "what do you make of the new Pike Place?"
The SECB's personal opinions about the newly renovated wing of Pike Place Market is that it looks like a very expensive parking lot for people, but the SECB was not there to share the SECB's opinions.
"I love it," David told the SECB. "I think it needs to be inhabited more. Pike Place is so of the people, the blood, sweat and tears of generations."
"When the viaduct is gone, it's going to be even doper than it is now," David added. "It's an empty shell. It just needs to be loved."
A couple more minutes of chitchat, and Cary Moon walked in. The room, now more packed than it was before, started a chant. "CA-RY! CA-RY! CA-RY!" they shouted. She smiled and waved.
"I have to give you a hug," Moon told the SECB, and then hugged the SECB, which made the SECB feel more awkward than it already does. "I'm so glad to see you here."
When asked how she felt, Moon replied, "Super."
"Super, like, supported by this energy and so supported by everyone here," she said. If she gets 45 percent of the vote or more, she'll feel good. Progressives vote late and all that.
But what makes Moon more nervous: winning or losing?
"Losing," Moon said, "for our city."
Scott Lindsay’s election night “party,” on a dimly-lit the second floor of Fisherman’s Bar and Restaurant on the waterfront, is less-than hopping. There are only 15 people there when we arrive, and people mostly huddle around the horseshoe bar or in clusters. They’re all better-dressed than we are.
They’re mostly donors and family friends—shockingly, not very many members of the public came out here for an election party for the City Attorney’s race. “I’m not even sure how they would find it,” Kalani Tissot, president of the UW Young Democrats told us. Tissot met both Lindsay and his opponent, incumbent Pete Holmes, on separate occasions as president of the UW Young Dems, and while he thought Holmes was great at first, he thinks Lindsay will offer real solutions.
Tissot said he was probably the youngest person there, and if we’re being real, he was probably the only person one not there out of obligation. “The biggest problem, is no one know what the City Attorney is or does,” he acknowledged.
Lindsay himself said pretty much the same thing. As far as he knows, the race is “wide open.” Sure, his opponent Pete Holmes lost the support of Community Police Commission's Lisa Daugaard as soon as Lindsay entered the race. But it’s hard to say if the public noticed or cared about, well, any of this.
In theory, the Seattle Glasswblowing Studio is a great place for an election party. There are fancy glass balls to look at, festive lights everywhere, and fully functioning gas-powered ovens at the ready if anyone is moved to do a bong-making demonstration. There is one odd thing, however, and that's the complete lack of tables. There is not one goddamn place to put down our goddamn laptop in here. Thankfully, right next door to the Glassblowing Studio is Eggs and Plants, a falafel and fries (good fries) eatery with an indoor window right into City Attorney Pete Holmes' party next door.
From this vantage, eating fries and window peeping, SECB can see about two dozen people—all white and past child-bearing age, from the looks of it—talking in small groups. There is, however, one young punk with funky hair loitering by the bar, who we suspect may be the competition, maybe from the increasingly svelte Seattle Weekly. While watching the scattered chit chat (and still eating fries), we make the mistake of re-reading the SECB's endorsement of Holmes. About Holmes and his opponent Scott Lindsay, it says:
The SECB would rather hook up with a Trump-voting horsefucker in Constantinople than sit at a conference table with either of these two. Incumbent Pete Holmes is a spineless bore who did a very good and radical thing when he took office in 2010 by dismissing marijuana possession charges, but hasn't done much since.
It is, one could say, a half-hearted endorsement, and we greatly wish we had read it before accepting this assignment. Will Holmes be glad to see us? Stay tuned.
One thing is for certain here: excellent food definitely has a seat at the table at the Mosqueda/González/DeWolf mega-election party.
There’s a tamale or an empanada or a pile of chips with premium guacamole on every small paper plate in this place. Suffice it to say SECB is very much celebrating its decision to pop a pot lozenge an hour before arrival. The very large, sterile room at Optimism Brewery is packed. Reggaeton is blaring from professional speakers. Power-suits and power-dresses all around. Half the young professionals here can probably also be found on the League. Former Stranger writers have gathered together to enjoy themselves.
A source close to one of the campaigns (they’re so funny here!) tells SECB these candidates have had shared events before during the race, and that tonight will hopefully culminate in a shared celebration for them all. A mariachi band is scheduled to play right after the first ballot drop. She thinks they have a “a really good chance of winning, honestly,” and judging by the crowd of over one million people gathered here this evening, she’s probably right.
That said, four of the 25 DSA candidates running this season have won elections across the county. Maybe Grant can ride the wave? SECB does not know. The SECB knows one thing though: the guac is already out.
The SECB has arrived at establishment Democrats’ party venue of choice, The Westin, for the Election Night party of the Seattle mayoral candidate who is definitely not at all part of the establishment, no way, Jenny Durkan.
Durkan is a former U.S. attorney with close ties to the Democratic Party. She has raised about $937,000 and benefitted from another $727,000 from an independent expenditure funded in large part by business groups. (Still, she’s run a campaign trying to eschew the “establishment” label.) She is probably going to have a very good night.
The crowd here was at least 60 percent reporters—cameras all dutifully set up facing an empty stage with a big “Jenny Durkan for Mayor” banner—when the SECB arrived. A few normals appear to have showed up now, median age roughly 87. The free food does not look bad:
But when “Happy” by Pharrell Williams came on and the SECB headed to the bar, damn:
While we wait for results in Seattle, the Stranger Election Control Board would like to remind you that there's no such things as a blue state. Cities are blue, states are red. And it's the urban vote that wins statewide races for Democrats, as we saw in Virginia tonight. And make no mistake: the governor's race in Virginia is a very big deal. The Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie, ran a race-baiting, immigrant-bashing, pro-Confederacy (!) campaign and the Democrat, Ralph S. Northam, came under fire from (sigh) the purist left. Polls were tightening for the last two weeks and pundits predicted that Gillespie would win. Gillespie is on track to lose by eight points—a resounding defeat. Dems also won the lieutenant governor and attorney general races. And in what may be tonight's sweetest victory for the LGBT community (and another positive sign as we head into the 2018 midterms): a transgender candidate, Danica Roem, beat an anti-trans Republican incumbent:
Virginia’s most socially conservative state lawmaker was ousted from office on Tuesday by Danica Roem, a Democrat who is poised to become the nation’s first openly transgender state lawmaker and embodies much of what Del. Robert G. Marshall fought against in Richmond. The race focused on traffic and other local issues in suburban Prince William County but also exposed the nation’s fault lines over gender identity. It pitted a 33-year-old former journalist, who began her physical gender transition four years ago, against a 13-term incumbent who called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe” and earlier this year introduced a “bathroom bill” that died in committee.... Marshall, 73, who refused to debate Roem and referred to her throughout the campaign using male pronouns, declined an interview request but posted a concession message on Facebook.
The Democrats also took back the governor's mansion in New Jersey—so long, Chris Christie, don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out—and Bill DeBlasio was reelected in NYC. The SECB is mostly going to be about local elections tonight—flip the port! toss out the sheriff! Nikkita would've won!—but the 2018 midterm elections start tomorrow and the results coming in from the East Coast tonight are a very good sign for Dems, liberals, progressives, socialists, and sane people everywhere.
Tonight's election coverage is brought to you by the hardworking King County elections workers assigned to observe the Ballard ballot dropbox (pictured above), which has filled to capacity at least twice today. They've been ordered to stay there until polls close at 8 p.m. in case it fills up again. We salute you, Ballard ballot box bouncers. Stay warm.
Our coverage is also brought to you by Redhook Brewery's soon-to-be shuttered Eastside location, where Manka Dhingra and friends hope to usher in what the New York Times calls "the stuff of liberal fantasies." The SECB swam across Lake Washington to this land of wineries and manicured lawns to observe what could be a complete West Coast takeover for Democrats.
Thankfully, the SECB is good at swimming, because we also RSVP'd to the hottest election night parties beneath our city's towering cranes: Mayor, city council positions 8 and 9, city attorney and King County sheriff. Refresh often for results (8:15), reactions and cheese plates.
(Oh, and here's who we want to win.)