(Page 2 of 2)
So the key question remains unanswered about this new mayor: Will he grow enough to accomplish more than a few of his environmentalist issues? And if not, is he going to be able to get reelected? His core agenda of forcing people to think differently about cars is not exactly what a recession-anxious, government-suspicious electorate is excited about. McGinn's base — bicycle clubs, nightlife businesses, young urbanists at war with suburban culture, the social-service sector — is noisy and has reliable advocates in the lefty media, but it is also small and not made up of reliable voters.
In the last election, where he was blessed with a very weak opponent in Joe Mallahan, McGinn expanded his environmentalist base by picking up the Mayor Nickels supporters in the South End and in ethnic communities (and dissembling about his opposition to the waterfront tunnel). Having angered such blocs as labor and business and developers with his anti-tunnel stand, where can he expand his base further? West Seattle, by promising transit and fighting the tunnel? Neighborhood groups, which he used to know well? The creative/entrepreneurial economy that he appeals to stylistically in his bad-boy mode?
But assembling interest blocs in this fashion, Greg Nickels' specialty, may be a pre-Facebook way of thinking about Seattle politics. What is likely to happen is a crowded field of challengers, with City Councilmember Tim Burgess as the centrist frontrunner, that may produce a surprise challenger in the final for McGinn: a newcomer with little experience and an even smaller base than McGinn's. Add to this my favorite two axioms about Seattle mayors' races are: you can't win if you're a sitting city councilmember, and the more liberal finalist always wins.
Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!