NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Ann Davison ahead of Nicole Thomas Kennedy for Seattle City Attorney in initial results

It has been a long, long time since a Repub­li­can was elect­ed to a city­wide posi­tion in Seat­tle, but that could be about to change if the elec­tion results we’re see­ing tonight hold. With about fifty per­cent of the bal­lots that are expect­ed to be cast in the elec­tion tab­u­lat­ed thus far, Ann Davi­son has a sev­en­teen point lead over rival Nicole Thomas-Kennedy for Seat­tle City Attorney.

Davi­son has 58.25% of the vote and Thomas-Kennedy has 40.96%.

The post, one of two exec­u­tive posi­tions cho­sen by Emer­ald City vot­ers every four years, is cur­rent­ly held by three-term incum­bent Pete Holmes.

Holmes failed to advance to the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion back in the sum­mer after NPI’s pre­elec­tion sur­vey of the August 2021 Top Two elec­torate showed that his cam­paign for a fourth term was in big trou­ble.

That cre­at­ed a gen­er­al elec­tion matchup unlike any in recent mem­o­ry, pit­ting a Repub­li­can (Davi­son) against an abo­li­tion­ist (Thomas-Kennedy).

Davi­son was also the ini­tial top vote get­ter in August, but fell to sec­ond after being sur­passed by Thomas-Kennedy in late bal­lots. How­ev­er, Davi­son’s lead over Thomas-Kennedy this time is much wider than in August, which will make it much hard­er for Thomas-Kennedy to mount anoth­er come from behind victory.

Ear­ly gen­er­al elec­tion polling by Elway Research and Strate­gies 360 sug­gest­ed the race could be very com­pet­i­tive, with each poll find­ing only a small lead for Davi­son. How­ev­er, our sub­se­quent gen­er­al elec­tion polling found Davi­son with a nine­teen point lead over Thomas-Kennedy and thir­ty per­cent unde­cid­ed, sug­gest­ing the dynam­ics of the con­test had changed.

If past counts are any indi­ca­tion, the final tal­ly will show a clos­er race than what we’re see­ing tonight. But it does­n’t look like Thomas-Kennedy has enough run­way to change the out­come this time around.

Pow­er­ful, mon­eyed inter­ests have been spend­ing a for­tune these past few weeks to get Davi­son elect­ed, and while those expen­di­tures doubt­less helped pro­pel Davi­son to where she is tonight, she arguably got an even big­ger boost out of the parade of for­mer gov­er­nors, judges, and jus­tices who pub­licly endorsed her can­di­da­cy, from Gary Locke and Chris Gre­goire to Bobbe Bridge and Lau­ra Inveen.

When you’re a Repub­li­can run­ning for office in a heav­i­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic city, it real­ly helps to have well known Demo­c­ra­t­ic names vouch­ing for you.

Thomas-Kennedy, mean­while, has been on the defen­sive for much of the autumn despite hav­ing the sup­port of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, owing in part to tweets she post­ed last year, in which she open­ly cheered on peo­ple who were destroy­ing prop­er­ty in the after­math of the mur­der of George Floyd. Davi­son’s camp has been using the tweets to bash Thomas-Kennedy at every pos­si­ble opportunity.

Thomas-Kennedy’s cam­paign cre­at­ed a stir­ring video to rebut the attacks and urge vot­ers to frame-shift before mak­ing a deci­sion, but has been rely­ing on sup­port­ers to repost and share it. As Paul Queary explained a cou­ple of days ago, her cam­paign sim­ply has­n’t had the home stretch vis­i­bil­i­ty that Davi­son’s has because it has uti­lized a more unortho­dox strat­e­gy and tactics.

As of the date of the cam­paign’s last C4, on Octo­ber 26th, Thomas-Kennedy’s cam­paign had spent $348,061.48 of $406,796.94 raised since its incep­tion, with $34,364.42 in lia­bil­i­ties and a bal­ance of $24,371.04. Thomas-Kennedy’s biggest expens­es have been for staff and can­vass­ing through Prism West. The cam­paign has made sig­nif­i­cant use of democ­ra­cy vouchers.

Davi­son, mean­while, is in the red. She has raised $397,426.26 and spent $370,008.47, has $59,906.50 in lia­bil­i­ties and only $27,417.79 on hand, which means she has a neg­a­tive bal­ance of $32,488.71. But a lot of her spend­ing has gone into paid adver­tis­ing dur­ing the vot­ing peri­od. On Octo­ber 14th, for instance, she bought $170,000.00 of cable TV adver­tis­ing through CN4 Partners.

Davi­son also got a boost from The Seat­tle Times Com­pa­ny, which ran an unusu­al num­ber of edi­to­ri­als like this harsh­ly bash­ing Thomas-Kennedy as an extrem­ist and unfit for office. The Stranger, mean­while, has been crit­i­cal of Davi­son. It has backed Thomas-Kennedy with an enthu­si­as­tic endorse­ment and friend­ly cov­er­age.

In a Seat­tle City Attor­ney race with con­ven­tion­al dynam­ics, Davi­son would prob­a­bly be los­ing right now, but this was any­thing but a con­ven­tion­al race.

I sug­gest­ed last month that Thomas-Kennedy’s deci­sion to cam­paign as an abo­li­tion­ist rather than brand­ing her­self as a pro­gres­sive Demo­c­rat helped open the door for Davi­son to find a path to vic­to­ry in this con­test, and I’ve since heard from sev­er­al Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­ers who agree with that analysis.

If Davi­son goes on to win, Seat­tle will soon have a new City Attor­ney with almost no rel­e­vant court expe­ri­ence and a “not qual­i­fied” rat­ing from the Wash­ing­ton Coali­tion of Minor­i­ty Legal Pro­fes­sion­als. The City Coun­cil may soon need to step up to pro­vide more account­abil­i­ty and over­sight than it has in the past.

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