NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

Elizabeth Warren electrifies Emerald City at huge Seattle Center rally with 15,000 people

If you are a hardy North­west pro­gres­sive, it’s hard to top a chance to lis­ten to one of the lead­ing pro­gres­sive can­di­dates for pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. For free!

Along­side 15,000 oth­ers, three of us from the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute attend­ed Eliz­a­beth War­ren’s ral­ly at Seat­tle Cen­ter Sunday.

The impres­sive atten­dance fig­ure was a new record for the 2020 War­ren cam­paign, and it’s part of a trend of bur­geon­ing crowds turn­ing out to hear from the senior Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor from Mass­a­chu­setts. Only a few days ago, about 12,000 peo­ple showed up to a ral­ly in Min­neso­ta to hear War­ren’s message.

Elizabeth Warren jogs onstage

Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren jogs onstage after being intro­duced by State Sen­a­tor Joe Nguyen (Pho­to: Bob­by Aiyer/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Institute)

Intro­duc­ing War­ren was Joe Nguyen (D‑34th Dis­trict: Seat­tle), State Sen­a­tor from the 34th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict rep­re­sent­ing parts of West Seat­tle and the sur­round­ing area. Nguyen, eight months into his first term, is a strong pro­gres­sive who was sup­port­ed for the Sen­ate by the Wash­ing­ton Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers, the Region­al Coun­cil of Car­pen­ters, and Seat­tle Tran­sit Blog, among oth­er organizations.

After Nguyen’s intro­duc­tion, War­ren sprint­ed onto the stage, warm­ly greet­ing Nguyen and thank­ing the mul­ti­tude from across the Pacif­ic NW for show­ing up.

War­ren also praised Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee for his con­tri­bu­tion to the pri­ma­ry con­ver­sa­tion. Inslee announced Wednes­day that he would end his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign; the next day, he declared a guber­na­to­r­i­al reelec­tion bid.

War­ren tout­ed the Gov­er­nor’s cli­mate-focused agen­da, and lat­er made clear in the press gag­gle that she shares Inslee’s view that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic field needs a cli­mate debate — con­tra­dict­ing DNC Chair Tom Perez and his sup­port­ers, who vot­ed Sat­ur­day against a res­o­lu­tion that would have sanc­tioned a cli­mate debate.

War­ren has not made cli­mate action the sin­gle over­ar­ch­ing theme of her cam­paign like Inslee did. But she has empha­sized cli­mate jus­tice in her pro­pos­als for heavy infra­struc­ture invest­ments, pub­lic domain tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion, and a cli­mate-focused for­eign pol­i­cy. For War­ren, cli­mate jus­tice is more of an inte­grat­ed con­cern woven into every plan and every relat­ed than a sin­gle-issue crusade.

Elizabeth Warren at Seattle Center

Eliz­a­beth War­ren speaks to a crowd of 15,000 at Seat­tle Cen­ter on Sun­day, August 25th, 2019 (Pho­to: Bob­by Aiyer/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Institute)

Sit­ting in the back­ground of the ral­ly in the shade were State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty Chair Tina Pod­lows­ki and Seat­tle May­or Jen­ny Durkan. (Pod­lodows­ki, as a state par­ty chair, is neu­tral in the pres­i­den­tial con­test and is not back­ing anyone.)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan

Seat­tle May­or Jen­ny Durkan at Eliz­a­beth War­ren’s Seat­tle Cen­ter ral­ly (Pho­to: Bob­by Aiyer/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Institute)

May­or Durkan was thanked by War­ren for being a “pro­gres­sive may­or of a pro­gres­sive city”. This com­ment received a notably mut­ed response from the oth­er­wise-bois­ter­ous and ener­getic crowd.

With her style weav­ing in and out between that of a cheery aunt and somber sto­ry­teller, War­ren shared with the crowd her life sto­ry — begin­ning with her child­hood, and how after her father passed when she was twelve, her moth­er was able to work hard and sup­port her fam­i­ly on a min­i­mum-wage, a very faint real­i­ty for many Amer­i­cans today.

Before delv­ing into pol­i­cy specifics (which you can find here) War­ren explained how afford­able edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties made a huge dif­fer­ence for her: pay­ing $50 a semes­ter for col­lege and $450 a semes­ter for law school opened doors to teach­ing and gov­ern­ment oth­er­wise unattainable.

Then came a dis­cus­sion of War­ren’s plans. Big cheers were heard when War­ren vowed to reverse the Cit­i­zens Cor­po­ra­tions Unit­ed deci­sion. War­ren’s wealth tax plan — a 2% tax on assets over $50 mil­lion — was also well-received.

Elizabeth Warren onstage

Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren onstage in front of an enthu­si­as­tic crowd at Seat­tle Cen­ter (Pho­to: Bob­by Aiyer/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Institute)

After the ral­ly (billed as a town hall) had con­clud­ed, every sin­gle attendee who want­ed a self­ie with War­ren was giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty. The line snaked all the way around the lawn south of the Inter­na­tion­al Fountain.

Nation­wide, War­ren has been polling between 14–20%, which leaves her in either sec­ond or third place over­all. In Wash­ing­ton, a statewide poll with a sam­ple of six hun­dred and nine­teen like­ly vot­ers con­duct­ed July 22nd — August 1st has War­ren at 14%, behind Biden (19%) and Sanders (18%).

For the 2020 nom­i­na­tion cycle, the Wash­ing­ton State Democ­rats have revised the del­e­gate allo­ca­tion process. In years past, vot­ers will remem­bers local precincts host­ing cau­cus­es to deter­mine the elec­torate’s pre­ferred nominee.

In 2020, the Wash­ing­ton State Democ­rats will allo­cate del­e­gates through a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry that con­cludes on March 10th.

Ida­ho’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry will also con­clude on this date, just shy of three weeks ear­li­er than the 2016 Wash­ing­ton cau­cus­es. Ore­gon will hold its pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry two months lat­er, in May, like it has in past years.

The Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s switch to a pri­ma­ry for allo­ca­tion pur­pos­es was made pos­si­ble by leg­is­la­tion sup­port­ed by NPI that tweaked the Revised Code of Wash­ing­ton to make the exist­ing pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry statute respec­tive of the par­ties’ First Amend­ment rights.

Under the plan adopt­ed by the par­ty’s gov­ern­ing body, the par­ty will hold leg­isla­tive dis­trict cau­cus­es to select del­e­gates to the state con­ven­tion and con­gres­sion­al dis­trict cau­cus­es about one month after the pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry is cer­ti­fied. Because all but one lev­el of the cau­cus­es are being retained for del­e­gate selec­tion and par­ty­build­ing pur­pos­es in 2020, the plan adopt­ed by the WSDCC has been called a “pri­ma­ry-cau­cus hybrid” approach.

Among the WSD­C­C’s aims in adopt­ing a pri­ma­ry-cau­cus hybrid plan was to encour­age more can­di­dates to vis­it Wash­ing­ton and spend time in-state.

So far, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden have both held fundrais­ers in the state, but Sun­day marked the first time a major can­di­date (polling in the dou­ble dig­its) has held a pub­lic event in Wash­ing­ton. (Biden held a closed-door fundraiser.)

Here’s to hop­ing many more can­di­dates from across the Demo­c­ra­t­ic field will make the jour­ney to Cas­ca­dia, engage with activists from across the region, and help vot­ers fig­ure out who they want to cast their bal­lot for next spring.

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