Andrea Caupain bows out.
Andrea Caupain bows out. Lucien Knuteson

On Monday Byrd Barr Place CEO Andrea Caupain suspended her campaign to represent the 37th Legislative District in the statehouse.

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Her exit widens the lane for former interim Seattle City Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley and Seattle Parks and Recreation Environmental Engagement Manager / cool DJ Chukundi Salisbury, who now represent the leading fundraisers in a crowded race to replace longtime former Rep. Eric Pettigrew.

Pettigrew opened up the seat after he took a job with the NHL and retired at the close of last session.

In a press release, Caupain said she couldn't "justify running a social service organization and running for office" given the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, and immigrants and refugees. She threw her support behind Salisbury.

With over $80,000 in contributions, Caupain had raised the most money in the race so far. She'd earned the endorsement of former Rep. Pettigrew, a moderate Democrat who voted against raising the minimum wage, modest evictions protections, and a bill restricting law enforcement's ability to use drone surveillance. He also promoted charter schools, tried to loosen regulations for predatory payday lenders, and tried to shield the state legislature from disclosing public records.

Caupain had also earned the endorsement of former Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland, the Washington State Labor Council, and Washington Conservation Voters.

In her statement, Caupain highlighted two initiatives she helped launch this month, including the Black Future Co-op Fund and the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Executive Director Network.

"I look forward to continuing to build bold coalitions and solutions with community throughout this campaign," Kirsten Harris-Talley said. "Eric Pettigrew has retired. And his chosen candidate is finding her place in community work again. As the only candidate with deep roots in activism and policy wins, I will continue to be in the streets with our community campaign for justice in the 37th."

On his lunch break, Salisbury called and said he welcomed Caupain's support. He learned she planned to endorse him yesterday, while he was holding a bullhorn at the Heal the Hurt march in Skyway.

"I think [Caupain] probably realizes that, at the end of the day, what we really need in this race is somebody who’s truly connected to community," he said. "We’ve had too many people down in Olympia who say they’re working for community in these closed-door meetings, but the average person feels like those people have been out of touch."

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To the extent that Caupain's endorsement is suggestive of a Pettigrew endorsement, Salisbury said, "But I wasn't endorsed by Pettigrew, was I?"

He brushed aside any notion that increased PAC support might influence his policy positions or change the focus of his campaign, and highlighted the local business owners and community members who have endorsed him. "Our campaign has the least amount of money," he said. "But the hood is with me. I got hella contributions, they’re just not high."

"People really want people who have stood with community and offered that in a credible way, and I’d contend that across every single element of this community, I’ve really been there," he added.

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