Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn broke an incumbent record last month: His office sent more press releases in a single month than the previous three incumbent mayors sent in any single month leading up to their primary elections.
McGinn's office issued 28 press releases, advisories or statements last month — based on the list from the seattle.gov website.) That's 1.2 press releases for each of the 23 workdays in May, more than McGinn's predecessor Mayor Greg Nickels sent out in the run-up to his re-election primaries in 2009 or 2005, and more than Mayor Paul Schell issued in any month leading up to his 2001 primary. (Click here to see our press release tally.),
McGinn's challengers upped their efforts too — barely. A review of challenger websites found four items that could qualify as press releases, as opposed to, say, a copy of some media coverage or the text of a speech. Three of the four came from candidate Peter Steinbrueck. Could be because Steinbrueck's campaign is one of the few to employ a former longtime newspaper reporter, Kathy Mulady, as a press liaison and spokesperson. Other challenger efforts to get coverage in daily news cycles are still stuck, firmly, in park.
The mayor's releases ran the gamut, from responding to breaking news (a May 15 statement on the NBA vote that kept the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle) to fluff such as "Mayor recognizes The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co. for its creativity, growth and community commitment," or "Mayor and City Librarian launch "Books on Bikes" program." The latter puts the mayoral imprimatur on the kind of city departmental doings that would be going on regardless of who's presiding over City Hall.
One mayoral press release, a May 7th announcement that the city would be melting down guns from a recent buyback program into "peace bricks," backfired when KIRO Radio reported that the guns had already been melted into rebar.
Though critics in the media and elsewhere have groused about the substance, the mayor's press barrage is a common tactic for any incumbent. Indeed, Crosscut's own Knute Berger said that a mayor who doesn't make the effort would be committing mayoral "malpractice."
The real malpractice question goes to the challengers: why aren't they generating some media coverage of their own?
To track all of Crosscut's ongoing coverage of the 2013 race, visit our Mayor Games page.