SEATTLE — The primary election in the heated Seattle mayoral race is next Tuesday, and Mayor Mike McGinn is fighting for his political life as a handful of well-funded challengers try to take him down.
McGinn was a political unknown at this point four years ago, but he was able to beat the odds and unseat an incumbent mayor. But after a rocky start in office, where he unsuccessfully fought against the Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel project, McGinn still hasn’t been able to recover in the minds of many voters.
Nine challengers are in the race against him, three of whom, along with the mayor, stand the best chance to make it through the primary:
•Longtime State Sen. Ed Murray
•Former City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck
•City Councilman Bruce Harrell
On Wednesday, McGinn released a TV ad to remind skeptical voters of his record.
“You want to feel safe in your communities,” the mayor said to the camera. “We’ve gotten police officers out of their cars and onto the streets. We got the lowest crime rate in 30 years.”
Murray, D-Seattle, best known for his recent work in the state Senate to pass gay marriage, calls himself a collaborator. On the trail he slams McGinn for his handling of police issues.
“The fact that we are a northern city on the West Coast and we’re under a Department of Justice consent decree (with the Seattle Police Department on reforms),” he said at a recent forum, “is just an appalling situation to be in.”
Steinbrueck has the support of many neighborhood groups for what they see as a slow-growth, smart-growth platform.
Steinbrueck also stands out in the field as the lone opponent of the NBA/NHL arena deal.
“Why put a sports arena in the middle of our regional industrial complex that would bring a million more cars to that area,” Steinbrueck said recently to an audience in South Lake Union, “making us less competitive globally, and putting at risk those important living-wage jobs.”
Rounding out the field of top contenders is the often charismatic Harrell. He says his candidacy is about giving voice to the most disadvantaged in the city.
“I have a background in business, but I have been fighting for social justice all my life,” said Harrell earlier this month. “I’m asking this city to imagine what can happen if we have that kind of leader.”
The last two mayors were ousted in the primary election. Seattle voters can therefore be brutal to incumbents.
The other four candidates in the race are businessman Charlie Staadecker, activist Kate Martin, socialist Mary Martin, attorney Doug McQuaid, and independent Joey Gray.