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Orion concedes to Sawant in Seattle City Council District 3 race

SEATTLE — Egan Orion has conceded to Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant in the closely-watched District 3 race.

The announcement comes after a ballot count released Tuesday showed him trailing Sawant by nearly 1,700 votes.

“Today, after the last batch of votes came in, it was was clear that our big election night lead had been reversed,” Orion said Tuesday in a video statement. 

He began with a roughly eight-point lead during early voting results last Tuesday, but Sawant continued to gain ground as updated ballot counts were released by King County Elections.  In late ballot returns, nearly 60 percent of District 3 votes dropped in her favor. As of Tuesday, she had about 52 percent of the vote.

Sawant declared victory in the race over the weekend, telling supporters that the results “are a repudiation of the billionaire cause of corporate real estate and of the establishment and a repudiation of the corporate media.”

This was Orion’s first time running for political office, and he was endorsed by an Amazon backed PAC. The group dumped a record $1.4 million into local city council races, Orion being the biggest beneficiary of that money.

Orion criticized Amazon’s spending, saying he knew voters who changed their votes to Sawant in response.

“It made the election not about [Sawant’s] record and policies but about Amazon and their massive, unneeded spending,” Orion said in his Tuesday video.

Many people in Seattle were displeased with the nine-member Council, especially over its handling of homelessness. Four incumbents declined to seek re-election, and business groups saw a chance to redirect a city government that had recently approved labor-friendly measures such as the $15 minimum wage, requirements that companies post workers’ schedules two weeks in advance and protections for hotel workers.

The effort may have backfired by sparking outrage on the left. Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders accused Amazon of trying to buy the council.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

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