New polling suggests city council member Nick Licata could do well in a citywide race against his colleagues.
  • EMC Research
  • New polling suggests city council member Nick Licata could do well in a citywide race against his colleagues.

A little while back, PubliCola wrote about a new poll by EMC Research on the favorability ratings of various Seattle City Council members. Who paid for the poll? No one seems to know, and the rumors are flying. But the poll does give some guidelines on where the council members stand with voters right now—in the city and in their future districts.

We got ahold of the thing, too, and there was one more interesting question to take a look at. See that chart up above?

Due to the way the districts measure was written, next year the whole city council will have to run for office. All nine seats are up for grabs, seven of those seats, as seen in this map, will be tied to geographical districts. The other two will still be at-large seats, elected citywide. Currently filed to run at-large in 2015? Sally Clark for one at-large seat, and Council President Tim Burgess for the other.

In the above questions, likely voters were polled on their first and second choices in a hypothetical four-way matchup for an at-large seat, choosing between Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Nick Licata, and Mike O'Brien. Why them? Well, O'Brien and Licata live in the same district (Ballard/Fremont District 6), and neither seems quite ready to retire. So they have to choose what to do. Neither has filed for next year yet, and they've both been cautious and coy about their intentions so far. Will they run against each other? (That seems unlikely, as they're political allies with very similar positions, goals, and supporters.) Will one of them throw in the towel? (Some have posited that Licata, who's been on the council since 1998, might be ready to pack it in.) Or will one of them run citywide, taking on one of their more centrist colleagues?

And if so, who would run citywide, and who would that person run against? This poll offers some potential guidance on that score. (Though, good lord, the race is a long way away, this question is kind of weird, and always take polls with enough grains of salt for a decent margarita.)

In this poll, Licata beats Burgess and Clark in this hypothetical matchup, getting 25 percent of the "first-choice" votes. Clark comes in second with 19 percent, Burgess and O'Brien tie for third with 13 percent apiece. (Burgess then beats O'Brien in the "second-choice" round, getting almost double O'Brien's votes.)

Could this give Licata more reason run against Burgess for an at-large seat next year? Maybe. One other notable thing: Licata's been on council forever, though he doesn't necessarily seem to be losing stamina. But if he is thinking about retirement, these first at-large terms only last for two years. (The districts measure wanted the at-large seats to run in the same years as the mayor, meaning that they'll be up again in 2017. After that they'll normalize to four-year terms just like the others.)

So hey, if this poll is correct maybe Licata could take on Burgess—a more fitting ideological foe than fellow lefty O'Brien—get a shorter, two-year term, and figure out if he's done after that. And it would leave hardworking O'Brien free to run in the district, where it's easier to door-knock your way to victory and two sitting progressive candidates wouldn't be pitted against one another.

Interesting. Just hypothetical stuff for now, but interesting.