It's a good thing for Ed Murray that we here at The Stranger don't hold grudges (well, most of us), because his blatantly disrespectful and dishonest campaign mailer implying our endorsement is more than grudge-worthy. And let's be honest—an apparently flattering quote from The Stranger strategically placed amidst a field of "key endorsements"—there's no other way to read that mailer. If you are a low-information voter, unaware that The Stranger enthusiastically endorsed Mayor Mike McGinn, you would reasonably conclude that we had endorsed Ed Murray instead.
This wasn't an accident. It was a clever intent to mislead—one which will surely win Murray some undeserved votes—and a tactic for which we've already called out Murray campaign consultant Christian Sinderman in previous campaigns. But you just can't pass the blame onto Sinderman. Murray is a veteran politician. He's the chair of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. He knows better. This is his campaign. And he had to know that at least some of us at The Stranger would understand this as him giving us the finger.
Whatever. If I held a grudge against every politician who said or did something stupid or dishonest, I wouldn't be on speaking terms with any of them (in the same way that politicians who hold grudges based on unflattering press, quickly make enemies out of journalism in general). So when the Seattle Times ultimately turns on Mayor Murray—and they will—I'll be there for Ed to mercilessly fisk their dishonest editorial. Because that's what I do. And if he chooses to take the lead on some issue I hold dear—like universal preschool, or living wages, or expanding light rail—I'll be there for Ed too, helping him get his message out. Because in the end, I've always just viewed politicians as tools for achieving my own agenda, and I'll happily use a hammer in place of a wrench, if that's what gets the job done.
But that said, this is a stupid game Ed is playing. We like Ed. He's a friend of The Stranger. We just liked McGinn better for this particular job. And so we tried to focus our endorsement on McGinn's accomplishments and qualifications rather than on Ed's failings. Of which there are many.
Ed is thin skinned. He's inflexible. And he tends to view Seattle's problems from a distinctly Olympia perspective. And to be honest, his reputation as an accomplished and effective legislator isn't really all that. Indeed, for all the abuse we've thrown at House Speaker Frank Chopp for refusing to spend the political capital necessary to pass a sustainable progressive economic agenda, at least Chopp knows how to build, maintain, and discipline his caucus, whereas Murray has displayed the opposite talents. It was during Murray's tenure as the Senate Dems' chief budget writer that we passed a series of all-cuts budgets that slashed funding for education. It was when Murray chaired the Senate Ways & Means Committee that "road kill" Dems fled across the aisle, giving Republicans control in a rare "Ninth Order" parliamentary maneuver. And it was when Murray was briefly elected Majority Leader late last year that Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon chose to officially caucus with the Republicans, giving the GOP complete Senate control. Hell, Murray couldn't even get King County the fucking MVET authority we asked for, a failure that could force Metro to cut bus service by up to 17 percent.
Murray touts his ability to reach across the aisle and build coalitions? Based on what? The only coalition he helped build in the legislature these past two years was the one specifically created to shut him out of the leadership. Does he deserve none of the blame for this? Did he not do anything to prompt these extraordinary betrayals? Was there nothing he could do to hold his caucus together? McGinn is attacked for his divisive style, yet it was Murray who presided over a divided caucus.
As for Murray's accomplishments over his 18 years in Olympia, his own website lists a couple of gas tax increases, and marriage equality. That's it. If there's something else he deserves particular credit for, I can't think of it.
Now, I don't mean to diminish Ed's role in passing gay marriage. I have personally congratulated him for what I've long viewed to be a well-planned and well-executed incremental approach toward expanding gay rights (an approach I've also begged him to adapt toward achieving sustainable revenue growth). So Ed deserves a ton of credit for this. But he didn't do it alone. And to be honest, Washington State rode atop a national wave of marriage equality, not out in front of it. So had Murray not provided the effective leadership he did on this issue in Olympia, maybe it would have taken voters a year or three longer to push it through at the polls.
But in the end, if there's one reason why I'm not casting my ballot for Murray in August it's that I just can't shake the feeling that his primary reason for running for mayor is that Congressman Jim McDermott stubbornly refuses to die. I sympathize both with Ed's frustrated congressional ambitions and his eagerness to flee the personal insult that Olympia has become. But Seattle's mayorship is not a consolation prize. And it certainly isn't something we owe him as a reward for his laudable work helping to pass gay marriage.
McGinn's not perfect either. We just thought he'd make the better mayor. It was nothing personal. We like Ed. He's my second choice. And considering that the consensus here in the office is that he is likely going to win in November, I sure hope Ed doesn't hold this post against me. But if he's going to be dishonest about us in his campaign literature, I'm not going to hold back from writing honestly about him here on Slog.