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.

Thursday, November 10th, 2022

Leesa Manion wins King County Prosecuting Attorney contest, defeating Jim Ferrell

Leesa Man­ion declared vic­to­ry today in the 2022 race for King Coun­ty Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney, accept­ing the con­grat­u­la­tions of her van­quished oppo­nent, Fed­er­al Way May­or Jim Fer­rell, and pledg­ing to get to work on behalf of the peo­ple of the state’s largest juris­dic­tion, home to more than two mil­lion people.

“I am hon­ored to have earned the trust of King Coun­ty vot­ers,” said Man­ion.

“I am look­ing for­ward to serv­ing as your next King Coun­ty Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney and want to thank May­or Jim Fer­rell for call­ing to con­grat­u­late me. I am com­mit­ted to work­ing with lead­ers through­out King Coun­ty to ensure that all of our com­mu­ni­ties are safe and sup­port­ed and to build a fair and trans­par­ent jus­tice sys­tem that pro­tects pub­lic safe­ty and pro­motes racial equity.”

“This after­noon, I called Leesa Man­ion to con­grat­u­late her on her his­toric elec­tion as King Coun­ty Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney,” said Fer­rell in a state­ment.

“This was a spir­it­ed and hard fought cam­paign and I am incred­i­bly thank­ful to my lov­ing fam­i­ly, friends, and sup­port­ers who put in the work to car­ry our mes­sage to every cor­ner of King Coun­ty. The peo­ple have spo­ken and I wish Leesa suc­cess as she takes on the seri­ous chal­lenges fac­ing our entire region.”

Man­ion’s cam­paign was backed by the King Coun­ty Democ­rats and over a dozen leg­isla­tive dis­trict par­ty orga­ni­za­tions along with King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine, Seat­tle May­or Bruce Har­rell, The Stranger, and a large num­ber of pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions. Man­ion is out­go­ing Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney Dan Sat­ter­berg’s Chief of Staff and has many years of expe­ri­ence work­ing in the office.

Fer­rell argued that Man­ion did­n’t have the right kind of expe­ri­ence need­ed to be a suc­cess­ful Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney, a cri­tique that was loud­ly echoed by The Seat­tle Times when it endorsed him. Though claim­ing to be a Demo­c­rat, Fer­rell sought and wel­comed the sup­port of Repub­li­cans for his campaign.

At one point, while on Jason Rantz’s right wing talk show, he stu­pid­ly attacked NPI, false­ly claim­ing that our KCPA elec­toral research was a “push poll.”

Fer­rel­l’s appear­ance on Rantz’s show was illu­mi­nat­ing. It showed that part of Fer­rel­l’s strat­e­gy was to get Repub­li­can vot­ers enthused about his candidacy.

But King Coun­ty is a very Demo­c­ra­t­ic, pro­gres­sive juris­dic­tion, and most of its vot­ers want to be rep­re­sent­ed by lead­ers who share their val­ues of empa­thy, mutu­al respon­si­bil­i­ty, and integri­ty. Going on right wing talk radio and mak­ing false state­ments about a pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tion’s work seemed to us to be a very coun­ter­pro­duc­tive move for a can­di­date try­ing to win in King County.

The Stranger’s Will Casey has had some of the best report­ing this year of Fer­rel­l’s cam­paign, fil­ing sto­ries on Fer­rel­l’s sym­bol­ic redun­dant ban on smok­ing fen­tanyl and his attacks on Restora­tive Com­mu­ni­ty Path­ways (RCP, which is a pre-fil­ing diver­sion pro­gram for young first-time offend­ers). The Stranger endorsed Man­ion, writ­ing of Fer­rell: “He’s sim­ply so deeply embed­ded in the sta­tus quo that he can’t seem to grasp that the poli­cies he’s push­ing will lead to even worse over­crowd­ing at our (exple­tive) jails and, in turn, even more crime.”

Real Change’s Guy Oron also pub­lished a reveal­ing inter­view with Fer­rell in which he was chal­lenged on many of the posi­tions he’s tak­en as part of his campaign.

An inde­pen­dent expen­di­ture oper­at­ed by a com­mit­tee call­ing itself “Fam­i­lies for a Safer King Coun­ty” and fund­ed by the Wash­ing­ton Asso­ci­a­tion of Real­tors, Steve Gor­don, Sabey Cor­po­ra­tion, Wash­ing­ton Fed­er­al Bank, and Home­street Bank sent out mail­ers to boost Fer­rell. One mail­er that went out in late Octo­ber tout­ed Fer­rel­l’s Seat­tle Times endorse­ment and claimed that he would elim­i­nate the “back­log of felony cas­es” and “close the revolv­ing door for career criminals.”

Man­ion cam­paigned with the enthu­si­as­tic sup­port of for­mer King Coun­ty Sher­iff Sue Rahr, who joined Ari­ana Orford and Brad Black­burn to offer endorse­ment tes­ti­mo­ni­als in a thir­ty sec­ond spot cre­at­ed to sum­ma­rize her cam­paign themes.

NPI’s final pre­elec­tion poll, a coun­ty­wide sur­vey of like­ly 2022 vot­ers in King Coun­ty, found Man­ion just one point ahead of Fer­rell in the aggre­gate — a vir­tu­al tie. How­ev­er, as the post announc­ing that find­ing detailed and explained, the poll found Man­ion had a lead greater than the mod­eled mar­gin of error among vot­ers who had already cast their bal­lots, which was telling. Fer­rell led among vot­ers who had not yet vot­ed, but not sure vot­ers grav­i­tat­ed more to Man­ion than to his can­di­da­cy when prompt­ed to make a choice, which was also telling.

The returns in every coun­ty­wide con­test we polled — King Coun­ty Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney, King Coun­ty Char­ter Amend­ment 1, and King Coun­ty Propo­si­tion 1 — are in each case clos­er to the num­bers from the sub­set of respon­dents who had already vot­ed rather than the aggre­gate num­bers, which makes sense, because those vot­ers were self-report­ing where they came down on these impor­tant ques­tions, rather than telling us what they were think­ing of doing.

In a “non­par­ti­san” race with an oppo­nent who also iden­ti­fied as a Demo­c­rat, Man­ion need­ed to make sure that King Coun­ty vot­ers knew that she was the most pro­gres­sive and most qual­i­fied choice. The elec­tion results demon­strate that she was suc­cess­ful in get­ting that mes­sage out. We should have some precinct-lev­el data soon to show where in the coun­ty her and Fer­rel­l’s sup­port came from.

Our polling indi­cat­ed Man­ion led in Seat­tle and on the East­side, and that’s prob­a­bly where many of the votes that she received were cast.

NPI con­grat­u­lates Leesa Man­ion on being cho­sen by vot­ers to serve in this impor­tant post. When Man­ion is next up, in 2026, she will get to run for reelec­tion along with sev­er­al oth­er coun­ty offi­cials, owing to the suc­cess­ful pas­sage of King Coun­ty Char­ter Amend­ment 1, which will align all elec­tions for coun­ty posi­tions in even-num­bered midterm and pres­i­den­tial elec­tion years like this one.

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