Ann Davison vs. Pete Holmes vs. Nicole Thomas-Kennedy
Ann Davison vs. Pete Holmes vs. Nicole Thomas-Kennedy (Campaign publicity photos)

Per­haps the most impor­tant find­ing from NPI’s July 2021 sur­vey of like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers was that incum­bent City Attor­ney Pete Holmes was in trou­ble… big trou­ble. Despite hav­ing served in the posi­tion for twelve years and hav­ing been reelect­ed four years ago by enor­mous mar­gins, our poll found Holmes in a dead heat with two chal­lengers who are very dif­fer­ent ide­o­log­i­cal­ly from him as well as well as from each oth­er — and most vot­ers undecided.

Tonight, about the only con­clu­sion we can make is that NPI’s polling was spot on about the close­ness of this race. 

With 84,884 votes cast over­all — 3,428 few­er than in the may­oral race in this first drop — the can­di­dates each have close to one third of the vote.

Davi­son is the cur­rent leader, with 34.64% and 29,401 votes.

Holmes is in sec­ond place with 32.80% and 27,844 votes.

Thomas-Kennedy is in third place with 32.15% and 27,288 votes.

Only five hun­dred and fifty-six votes sep­a­rate Holmes from chal­lenger Thomas-Kennedy as of this first drop. And Holmes and Thomas-Kennedy are each less than 3,000 votes behind Davi­son. This con­test will go down to the late ballots.

It is entire­ly pos­si­ble that by week’s end, we could see a lead change for City Attor­ney, or maybe even mul­ti­ple lead changes.

If Thomas-Kennedy (who was backed by The Stranger) improves in sub­se­quent drops, she could move into sec­ond place, which would leave Holmes locked out of a spot on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot this autumn.

The order in which the can­di­dates land­ed in this first batch of elec­tion results is the inverse of how they stack up against each oth­er with respect to dol­lars and cents. Davi­son has raised the least, yet is cur­rent­ly in first place. Thomas-Kennedy has raised the most, yet is in third place. Here are the numbers:

  • Thomas-Kennedy: Raised $116,232.04; spent $14,535.93 so far
  • Holmes: Raised $104,701.26; spent $92,653.13 so far
  • Davi­son: Raised $32,679.26; spent $11,062.84 so far

The fact that Holmes isn’t in first place in this first drop is anoth­er omi­nous sign for his can­di­da­cy. In our poll, he was bare­ly ahead of his two chal­lengers. His lead was with­in the mod­eled mar­gin of error, mak­ing it sta­tis­ti­cal­ly insignificant.

Now, almost three weeks lat­er, he is behind one of his chal­lengers and on the verge of falling behind the oth­er. Not a good posi­tion for an incum­bent to be in.

Seat­tle vot­ers have oust­ed city­wide incum­bents in elim­i­na­tion rounds before — most mem­o­rably, two-term May­or Greg Nick­els in 2009.

Twelve sum­mers ago, Nick­els was eclipsed by two chal­lengers: Mike McGinn and Joe Mal­la­han. McGinn went on to win the gen­er­al elec­tion and served one term as May­or of Seat­tle. He was defeat­ed in his reelec­tion bid by Ed Mur­ray, who became embroiled in scan­dal towards the end of his own first term and abrupt­ly resigned after hav­ing decid­ed not to seek reelec­tion. Mur­ray was suc­ceed­ed by Jen­ny Durkan, who also decid­ed not to seek reelec­tion as Mayor.

Pete Holmes, mean­while, has been City Attor­ney for all that time. He has served along­side McGinn, Mur­ray, inter­im may­ors Bruce Har­rell and Tim Burgess, and most recent­ly Durkan. But his chances of get­ting to serve along­side Seat­tle’s new may­or are look­ing increas­ing­ly slim. Holmes has acknowl­edged in recent inter­views that his time could be up, telling Cross­cut’s David Kro­man and The Seat­tle Times’ Jim Brun­ner that he is pre­pared to lose.

“I don’t know what to say. I am six­ty-five. We’ll see what hap­pens. I am at peace with what hap­pens next Tues­day,” he remarked to Brun­ner last week.

We have now seen the ini­tial results, but they don’t tell us who will be mov­ing on in this race. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out how this dra­ma ends.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts

One reply on “It’s a three way race, all right: Seattle City Attorney contest is simply too close to call”

Comments are closed.