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Seattle's recent mayors: One is ready to make the statewide grade

Winners and Losers: McGinn and his recent predecessors seem to be enjoying themselves. But will out-state voters ever forgive Greg Nickels for being from Seattle?

Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels talks to Crosscut writers and editors.

Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels talks to Crosscut writers and editors. Berit Anderson/Crosscut

I don't know what astral alignment was happening, but this week I had a chance to talk with three Seattle mayors, Mike McGinn, Paul Schell, and Greg Nickels. All seemed to be doing quite well: McGinn gave a great, off-the-cuff speech at a Space Needle luncheon, Schell seemed relaxed from the Whidbey Island lifestyle and was insightful talking about some of democracy's challenges, and Nickels is bearded (Mossback approves) and trying to do what no Seattle mayor has done since Art Langlie in 1940: move on to higher statewide office.

Nickels is running for Secretary of State, an office that has been dominated by the Republicans for decades, not unlike the way Democrats have dominated the governor's office. The last Democrat elected SOS was Vic Meyers, the former Seattle band leader and "clown prince of politics," in 1960. It's been all GOP since the Kennedys, however. The current occupant, Sam Reed, is retiring, and his predecessor, Ralph Munro, set the mold for it as a bipartisan statesman, ambassador for the state, dealmaker, and voice of moderation. By the way, I also saw and chatted with Munro this week. He was at the Century 21 anniversary as a former employee working the fair's infamous Show Street. Maybe the secret to his success was support from the folks in Morton!

At any rate, Nickels is interested in using the SOS office as a bully pulpit for revitalizing Washington's small towns, for reforming the state's political system (such as making it impossible for, say, another Costco to buy an election), and he says he's concerned about heritage funding. But will a liberal, life-long Democrat from Seattle be seen as a fair-minded overseer of elections, records, libraries, and archives? Nickels, whose wife, Sharon, is from Ellensburg, is out to win them over with a swing into Eastern Washington this week, with Spokane and Yakima on the itinerary. But his real asset is name familiarity here at home: it's 95 percent in King County. That's more people than know "Lake Washington." If Nickels' big name can get him a big enough percentage of voters in the shadow of the Needle, what he picks up on the other side of the Cascade Curtain will be a bonus.

It'll be interesting to see if a Seattle mayor can re-brand himself as a statewide public servant. It would be good for the city, and for past and future mayors, if he can.

I rate him a winner this week, for the effort. Maybe he can lead the way in the sensible recycling of our mayors.

More winners and losers of the week:

Loser: Oh, bad week for gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. He snaps at a young woman and tells her to "get a job," never a good answer and especially during a recession. He should have said, "Hey, find a safety net with a massive hole in it!"

McKenna's taking hits for being wobbly on abortion rights. Then, someone's digging through old files at the King County Council and finding evidence that maybe there had been (we're shocked, shocked!) some campaigning going on on county time down at the courthouse, which would be the least surprising revelation one can think of, except such common practices when dragged into the daylight often actually shock people. This happened back in the '90s when some reporter broke from the pack to reveal that politicians were using caucus staff for campaign work. As common as sending an intern for coffee, but in daylight, well, people flipped. Be interesting if reporters dig into everyone's county behavior and see how much has been happening on whose dime. McKenna will be hit by a "he's not who you think he is" effort, and we'll have to decide, "Hmmm. Is he or isn't he?"

Loser: Reporters who have to cover politics in a one-party town.

Winner: Seattle, which scored high on the "Peace Index" as the third most peaceable metro area in America. What was that about a murder emergency? Maybe there are some benefits to being a one-party town.

Winner: Romney, who swept all those meaningless primaries this week to become the inevitable GOP nominee for president.

Winner: Obama, for coming out well in Karl Rove's back-of-the-envelope electoral math. More good news: Romney's so scary, even the Netroots lefties are backing Obama!

Loser: That crazy slut, John Edwards.

Winner: 2016. Pundits, already bored with 2012, have already moved on to the fun speculation about the next presidential race. Clinton or Cuomo? Let's see a real cat/dog/cock fight.

Loser: Newt announced that he will soon announce to us puny hu-mans he's pulling out, with a massive debt and no Moon base for a legacy. Can't he put it all on his Tiffany's card?


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Apr 27, 8:45 a.m. Inappropriate

Kim Wyman will be a much better Secretary of State. She has experience in the important matters of that office; whereas the former Seattle mayor just wants us to give him a job.

Posted Fri, Apr 27, 9:18 a.m. Inappropriate

High name recognition isn't always a good thing. Does Nickles really think Seattle voters have forgotten why they gave him the boot 4 years ago, despite the overwhelming organizational and financial advantages he enjoyed in the campaign? Even for those who may no longer remember his arrogant style in the mayor's office and his attempts to build a Chicago-style political machine here in Seattle (not to mention his incompetence at snow removal), the Nickles brand will continue to carry negative associations. It's no wonder, then, that he's reaching out to other parts of the state for support, as the voters who know him best are more likely to shun him.

Posted Fri, Apr 27, 9:28 a.m. Inappropriate

[McKenna] snaps at a young woman and tells her to "get a job," never a good answer and especially during a recession.

Thumbs down for McKenna, and you as well Knute. You need to get your head out of 1962 and look around at what’s happening in Seattle now.

The recession ended three years ago:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-recession-ended-june-2009-nber-says-2010-09-20 .

BA and AMZN just reported record profits. SBUX profits just jumped, and it revised future earnings numbers upward (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2018080828_starbucks27.html). MSFT recently reported great earnings numbers on the business side:

Now the good news, of which there was no shortage--but it's virtually all on the enterprise side. I already mentioned that business PC sales were up 8%, pulling up OS sales with them. Windows revenue was up 4% overall, and the Windows group posted a 6% rise in operating income, to $2.95 billion. Most of the gain came from business sales.

http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/productivity_apps/232900660

In McKenna’s world – public sector employees – times have never been better. Government sector employment in the 2000 – 2010 period increased by four percent in downtown Seattle, two percent citywide, seven percent in King County and 16 percent throughout the Puget Sound region (http://downtownseattle.com/files/file/SOD2012_EconReport.pdf).

See, everything is going great around here . . . don’t say we’re in a recession, we’re not.

crossrip

Posted Fri, Apr 27, 10:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Once again, I agree with cocktails42. I can't wait to vote against Nickels. To me, he appears to be not only arrogant, but narcissistic, greedy, and just plain incompetent. The developers certainly may be glad to have a chance to elect him again, although I hope he can't help them much, or damage the rest of us much, as SoS. That is unless he can manipulate elections to their benefit. I certainly fear that the Republicans can field someone even more repugnant, but they'll really have to work to do that. I had hoped Nickels had moved on to some other state permanently so we'd never have to hear his name, let alone see his face, again. But no such luck. So, next best I'll at least be able to help hand him another defeat. Let it be so.

mspat

Posted Fri, Apr 27, 10:14 a.m. Inappropriate

I can't wait to vote against Nickels. To me, he appears to be not only arrogant, but narcissistic, greedy, and just plain incompetent.

How can you say that? If it were not for Nickels we would not have Sound Transit's ST2 ordinance with the intergenerational $85 BILLION regressive tax cost to this region to secure the bonds. We also would not have had the monorail authority.

What could possibly go wrong with Nickels in Olympia "keeping us safe from bad ballot measures"?

crossrip

Posted Fri, Apr 27, 11:35 a.m. Inappropriate

Maybe connecting networks of small towns with tunnels would achieve some revitalization? Makes as much sense as his first tunnel on the waterfront.

jmrolls

Posted Sun, Apr 29, 10:39 p.m. Inappropriate

But his real asset is name familiarity here at home: it's 95 percent in King County. That's more people than know "Lake Washington."

This is frightening. What on earth do people think 520 and I-90 cross?

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