Survivors: Murray vs. McGinn

How rough will Seattle's mayoral campaign get as the race comes down to a tough matchup?
Lots more of this ahead: Ed Murray campaigns at Lake City Pioneer Days just before Tuesday's primary election that appears to have propelled him into a November faceoff with Mike McGinn.

Lots more of this ahead: Ed Murray campaigns at Lake City Pioneer Days just before Tuesday's primary election that appears to have propelled him into a November faceoff with Mike McGinn. Christina Montilla

Mayor Mike McGinn is surrounded by supporters on a happy primary election night.

Mayor Mike McGinn is surrounded by supporters on a happy primary election night. Eric Scigliano

Memo to the Wake-Me-When-It's-Over Crowd: It's over!

With the first results of the primary balloting in, the race for Seattle mayor looks to be between top vote-getters state Sen. Ed Murray (30 percent) and Mayor Mike McGinn (27 percent). In a low-turnout, hard-to-predict election with a crowded field of candidates (nine), the winnowing has occurred. What it sets up is a fascinating race between a City Hall insider who's happiest as an outsider (the mayor) and a City Hall outsider who's running as an insider (Murray).

Mike McGinn took his victory lap in a sports bar in Pike-Pine named 95 Slide after Ken Griffey Jr.'s famous playoff-winning run in the 1995 series with the New York Yankees. That was a come-from-behind win, and so was McGinn's strong showing in the top-two primary, especially given that last fall hizzoner was widely assumed to be politically dead and his popularity numbers were grim and flat-lined.

He looked headed for the fate of mayors Paul Schell and Greg Nickels who were both dumped in primaries. But the mayor is nothing if not a fighter. His friends laud him for it and his enemies say: That's the mayor's problem, he's divisive. But this night, fighter Mike was elated. "I feel good, man," he said of the results. His supporters loudly chanted "Four more years," and a supporter standing behind the mayor as he snaked through the crowded bar was already looking ahead to the battle with Murray: "Throw some punches, man!"

A second victory party took place at The Crocodile in Belltown, which was jammed with celebrating Murray supporters. The senator stood on a stage jam-packed with key backers — including mayoral dropout Tim Burgess and City Attorney Pete Holmes — and gave what sounded less like an election-night victory speech than an inaugural address. Murray ranged from saving transit from budget cuts to the sidewalk maintenance backlog, but his main pitch was "a vision called community."

Where McGinn divides, Murray brings together, at least that's the idea. Murray's speech already showed hints of appealing to his opponents' voters by touching on the themes of Peter Steinbrueck and Bruce Harrell, who placed third and fourth respectively in the night's ballot count. Murray pitched for both density and preserving traditional neighborhoods — "It's not either or," he said, echoing Steinbrueck's message. He also called for one city, consistent with Harrell's unity message.

Murray painted a picture of a city government that is not as good as the city itself. He said, "Seattle too often succeeds despite its leadership," and promised to change the atmosphere of polarization and division. He wants "a city we can all feel proud of again."

The Olympia vet Murray's crowd was strong with gays, greens and business types who, as one said, find him not so much pro-business as a guy who promises predictability. Murray's message is safe, sane and aimed at the great Seattle middle — the liberal, middle class voters who aren't particularly disenchanted.

McGinn's shout outs are to the maids and grocery workers, to the bike and transit advocates, the community activists. He paid tribute to the late Kip Tokuda who, he said, was the "conscience of our campaign." He asked, "What does this city stand for?" McGinn has said he wants to be the most progressive mayor of the most progressive city in America.

Progressiveness doesn't really seem to be the issue, but style is and will be. The choice seems to be between the progressive-combative city of McGinn and the progressive-collaborative city of Murray. Do you get the best results wearing combat boots, or sensible shoes?

Likability is an important factor, says former mayor Charles Royer, who is a Murray backer. He respects the incumbent's political skills -- "We've seen the mayor's ability to campaign" -- he acknowledges. Still, he remembers what city council legend Sam Smith once told him: "People wanna like the mayor."


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Aug 7, 8:18 a.m. Inappropriate

Greg Nickels, who first came into the mayor's office by promising to be the 'nice,' collaborative, consensus-oriented type as opposed to the 'strong mayor' type that his opponent, Mark Sidran, was promoting, turned out to be anything but. Now we see Ed Murray, another party hack, also labeling his opponent as too combative and promising to bring peace and harmony back to city government. Yet he reminds me a lot of Nickels...

Posted Wed, Aug 7, 10:50 a.m. Inappropriate

The only mayor that earned the title of "nice" was Norm Rice. The low-information and feel-good voters are present so far.

That Murray now hints to Steinbrueck's and Harrell's positions, shows he is more of an lazy opportunist than a guy with a Progressive, vs. neo-liberal vision and the skills to implement it. He does have a lot of Nickles people working for and with him. That does not bode well.

And McGinn is really no better. Both have more minuses than pluses.

Marksp

Posted Wed, Aug 7, 11:26 a.m. Inappropriate

This puts the "undecideds" in a quandary.

McGinn is the guy who can be counted on to pinstripe more bike lanes, pander to the low-income without doing anything substantive (think that Whole Foods will REALLY be rejected?), and hold the cloaks of wealthy developers as they build out all remaining nonpublic space between the Smith Pencil and northern Ballard.

Murray is the well-heeled Permanent Pol with his own single-issue posse who's swimming in money, apparently has good support from the business community (note how developers walk both sides of the street) and has said little about what he really envisions for the city.

What's an Undecided to do?

Does the Flagon with the Dragon, or the Vessel With the Pestle have the brew that is true?

Seneca

Posted Wed, Aug 7, 1:57 p.m. Inappropriate

Agree somewhat with Seneca, but frame my question a little differently: Who is the candidate that will end the war on cars, stop giving permits for modern boxes to be built in established single family neighborhoods containing homes with some character, and who will give us some property tax relief? Who is the candidate that will recognize the obvious, that the roads are not full because there are too few buses, but because our modern lives don't have time to spend extra hours riding with the great unwashed and the mentally ill, and because buses do not go where we need to go?

My guess is that unfortunately there is no such candidate anywhere near Seattle.

mspat

Posted Thu, Aug 8, 11:12 a.m. Inappropriate

mspat, but there sure are a lot of voters who think this way. These are such basic truths to many of the issues. We need better candidates, ones with ears and brain density between those ears.

Candidates and elected who do not 'major' in holding public office for decades. We need term limits for all elected positions. I say 8 years, with an additional ability to run again 8 years after any service in office.

Posted Thu, Aug 8, 11:33 a.m. Inappropriate

We need a City Council that can advocate for the currently largely ignored interests listed in your and other comments. Instead of praying for a truly liberal (not neoliberal) candidate for mayor, and for voters to show up in early August to vote for him (or her if we're lucky), we can make a significant move in that direction by replacing the current nine mini-mayor city council with a mixed district/at-large council. Charter Amendment No. 19 will be on the ballot November 5. Its passage would be a significant structural change in the democratic direction. (Term limits is another possible structural reform; common1sense, get that one on the ballot and we can have that productive civic debate as well.)

louploup

Posted Thu, Aug 15, 1:11 p.m. Inappropriate

mspat - could not agree with you more. There is another Seattle that is not being represented. I live in an established neighborhood where my children can play and when we have a gathering our friends and family actually have a place to park that doesn't have a 2 hour limit. We have a yard for the dog to run and a place to put a kiddie pool. These areas are disappearing in favor of sky high industrial looking eyesores in traditional neighborhoods. Why can't we have both? Something for everyone? Those who wish to be car free and live in dense urban centers should be able to do so but politicians in Seattle have been forcing this idea down everyone's throat for quite some time now. We need a politician who will represent ALL in Seattle it will take creativity and compromise not the divisive one-sided Seattle politics as usual.

mjbg

Posted Wed, Aug 7, 2:15 p.m. Inappropriate

No one, repeat, no one who voted for Steinbrueck, Harrell and the other also-rans in the primary will vote for McGinn in the general. They will either vote for Murray or not vote. Murray will beat McGinn by five to ten points in November. You heard it here first.

Posted Wed, Aug 7, 2:32 p.m. Inappropriate

I voted for Steinbrueck, and I could very well vote for McGinn in the general. This is going to be a LONG general election campaign, and all kinds of things could happen...

Posted Wed, Aug 7, 11:05 p.m. Inappropriate

I would vote for my pot smoking, alcoholic, spouse beating neighbors before I would even consider voting for McGinn.

Posted Tue, Aug 13, 3:17 p.m. Inappropriate

War on cars? Really? "Great unwashed"? Wow.

Blaeloch

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