- We now present to you the confirmed tributes from District 3: Kshama Sawant and Rod Hearne!
Was it a miscommunication? An intentional fake-out to get an opponent to declare? We're not sure quite what to make of the last 24 hours, during which a political consultant said Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant was considering a citywide run, and then Sawant herself said no, she's "definitely running" in District 3, which covers Capitol Hill and the Central District.
Certainly, Sawant stepping out of the 3rd would have been welcome news for this guy: Rod Hearne, the 47-year-old vice chair of the LGBT advocacy group Equal Rights Washington who filed yesterday to run against Sawant.
So far, Hearne is the only potential Sawant challenger to formally jump in. He told Capitol Hill Seattle he’s “not really framing things in terms of Kshama Sawant.” Too bad, dude. Everyone else is.
When I spoke with him yesterday evening, Hearne tried to use the new district elections system itself as one argument for voters picking him over Sawant. "District elections are going to completely change the way as citizens and residents we approach the council," Hearne said. "Instead of nine council members you can call to try to get some attention from, you're going to have to call your district representative and you've got one. The job in the 3rd will change [from the citywide position Sawant currently holds]. It’s not the same job, and I think I can make a case for being an alternative.”
Hearne's case for his candidacy also centers on his work with the 2012 campaign for marriage equality in Washington, which he says shows his ability to build coalitions—notable, considering Sawant is sometimes criticized for being divisive.
“We were able to build alliances with other progressive causes,” Hearne said. “That’s going to be how the ball gets moved forward in the long run.”
Where Sawant has focused on big undertakings like a higher minimum wage, Hearne is promising to focus on the “nitty gritty” of district-specific needs. (When I asked him about his top issues, they included municipal broadband, police accountability, and housing affordability—not exactly district-specific, but it is still early.)
When Ansel Herz talked to Sawant earlier today about her plans to run in the 3rd, she said she didn't have "any comments" on Hearne's run or the argument that she's divisive.
"If he's choosing to run against the council member who has proven to stand true to all her campaign promises and has stood up for working families," she said, "it's a question to him, not to me."
Hearne also took on Sawant over her affiliation with Socialist Alternative, which last year supported candidate Jess Spear against state house Speaker Frank Chopp. Hearne called Chopp “probably one of the best people to solve some of those issues… when comes to homelessness, low-income housing, and low-income Seattleites."
He continued: "For her and her party, if they're about moving the ball forward on income inequality or doing something about rising rents or something about support for providing more low-income housing, going after Frank on that seems very disingenuous and dishonest."
So if Sawant sticks with the 3rd like she says she will, expect to see a sort of rehash of the Socialist versus establishment Democrat battle that came out in the Spear/Chopp race, in which Spear and her supporters claimed that if nothing else, they'd forced Chopp's talking points to the left. Party time!
UPDATE: Rod Hearne says he wasn't head-faked into announcing his candidacy, and hadn't even heard rumors that Sawant might run citywide. In fact, he says, he filed before hearing the rumors about Sawant—but after rumors about his own candidacy began to circulate.