It started out innocently enough: On Monday, Seattle Times political reporter Jim Brunner broke a story about mayoral candidate Ed Murray's unpaid UW parking tickets (three of them, to be exact). The story was posted online in the Times' Politics Northwest blog, though not in the paper's print edition. On Tuesday night, King 5 News followed suit, covering Murray's tickets in a segment on its evening news.
Around 10:30 p.m., Aaron Pickus, the mayor's spokesperson, sent the following Tweet.
This race has been marked as much by the candidates' similarities as by the short leashes on which their handlers have kept them. That's why Pickus' 140 characters would spark one of the most dramatic interchanges of the mayoral race so far
Other Seattle media also waded in. Like SeattlePI.com's Joel Connelly:
And The Stranger's Dominic Holden:
So why add to the media pigpile? Sadly, the Pickus-Brunner "debate" was more emotionally honest about Seattle media and politics than anything you'll find onstage at a mayoral debate.
McGinn campaigners have been volunteering around the clock: Doorbelling, leafletting, phonebanking in a frantic attempt to bridge the numbers gap. Their ground game and their dogged commitment to converting voters one conversation at a time are their not-so-secret secret weapons. This is what they do and they wear their confidence costumes proudly.
But the pressure is on: Can the ground game work for an incumbent who is somehow unpopular despite general satisfaction with the job he's done? It is an exhausting game and Pickus and his team are scrambling for leverage. So it's not hard to see why he'd be defensive about the Times, as he sees it, glossing over this fourth quarter gotcha moment — petty though parking tickets may be.
Then there's Jim Brunner — a part of the fiercely independent news team that reported critically on their own publisher's questionable advertising decision last year. A team likely still smarting from the loss of revered editor David Boardman (Now dean at Temple University) and barraged with a chorus of complaints about owner Frank Blethen's conservative sway.
Connelly and Holden? They're the comic relief — the friends who crack jokes to cut the tension; who call a spade a spade just to hold up a mirror to bruised egos worth preserving. Because Brunner and Pickus are really just two good passionate hardworking guys. Guys who believe in what they're doing and are willing to fight for it. Even if that fight is limited to 140 characters, links and all.