Winnowing election night is finally here.
Several weeks after voting began, the deadline to turn in ballots has arrived, and the first results are coming in. All eyes, figuratively speaking, are on the state’s largest city, which has the election’s marquee race: a nine-way contest for mayor.
Only two of the nine will be moving forward to the November runoff, and at this point it looks like those two candidates will be Democratic State Senator Ed Murray and incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn, who polls showed had the lead back in July.
As of just after 8:15 PM, Murray’s share of the vote was 30.24%, with McGinn a few points behind at 27.15%. (See more numbers at NPI’s Pacific NW Portal).
Coming in third and fourth place were Peter Steinbrueck and Bruce Harrell, one a former member of the Seattle City Council and the other a current member. The two of them have more than thirty percent of the vote combined. But individually, they’re both more than ten points behind McGinn.
The rest of the field – Charlie Staadecker, Joey Gray, Kate Martin, Mary Martin, and Doug McQuaid – are all in the single digits.
At his Election Night party at China Harbor, Steinbrueck urged supporters to keep the faith, noting many ballots left to be counted. He was even introduced as “the next mayor of Seattle.” But Steinbrueck is very far behind McGinn… he would need a huge wave to carry him past the incumbent, and that just doesn’t seem likely.
Steinbrueck’s supporters began crowding around a projection screen moments after the first and only results of the night were posted. But the returns gave them no cause for celebration. Steinbrueck took to the stage shortly afterwards, cheerfully thanking his volunteers and trying to strike an optimistic tone.
Murray and his supporters, celebrating at The Crocodile in Belltown, were jubilant. Murray delivered a well-received victory speech with his family and friends at his side. Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess, a former rival of Murray and McGinn’s, was on the stage, as were City Attorney Pete Holmes and State Representative Cyrus Habib of the 48th LD.
Murray pledged, if elected, to appoint more women to leadership positions in City Hall, and pronounced himself ready for a lively autumn campaign with McGinn.
“I’m not running to be a gay mayor of Seattle… I’m not running to be a progressive mayor of Seattle… I’m running to be an effective mayor!” he told his supporters.
Murray has the support of much of the city and the state’s Democratic establishment. He picked up endorsements from most of the city’s Democratic legislative district organizations, and prominent former officeholders like Governor Chris Gregoire have held events on his behalf.
McGinn and his supporters, meanwhile, were upbeat, celebrating the Mayor’s substantial lead over all of his rivals except Murray. Their party, at Capitol Hill’s 95 Slide, was still going strong late into the night.
Several McGinn supporters I talked to made a point of calling the night a huge victory over The Seattle Times, which they say has spent three and a half years trying to bring down McGinn’s administration.
(The Times has a notorious history of endorsing Republicans for statewide and federal office; it backed Rob McKenna and Reagan Dunn last year).
Ahead of the election, many observers wondered if McGinn would share the fate of Greg Nickels and Paul Schell, who were ousted by challengers in the 2001 and 2009 winnowing elections. But McGinn’s supporters tell me they always had faith that they’d be able to mount a winning campaign.
McGinn volunteers say they’re energized to reelect Mike because they want a city that has great mass transit, safe neighborhoods, good schools, and a commitment to combating the climate crisis. They’re looking forward to the fall campaign, which promises to be a fierce and no-holds barred matchup with Ed Murray.
But tonight, they’re celebrating, because Mike McGinn is moving on to the final round in his bid for a second term as Mayor of Seattle.