Whatcom County Democrats reveled in apparent victory late Tuesday night with a packed house at a Bellingham VFW hall. The four candidates – Barry Buchanan, Ken Mann, Carl Weimer and Rud Browne –held strong margins over their Republican-backed opponents in the “non-partisan” race.
While candidates haven’t been able to address the issue of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal head-on, there really is little doubt about which side of the issue they’ll fall on. The proposal, which would ship 48 million tons of coal annually from the Powder Basin River mine in Wyoming, brought both large amounts of money and tensions to the rarely-watched Whatcom County Council election. The progressive slate is expected to be highly skeptical of the proposed coal port.
Ken Mann, who handily won re-election, said that the showing of the Democrat-backed candidates demonstrates that Whatcom County "rejects the Tea Party," and that Whatcom County voters "won't sacrifice long-term sustainability for short-term convenience."
Beaming, Mann said, "This was the best grassroots campaign I've ever seen - local people, local volunteers, local money and local organizers."
Barry Buchanan, who also held a strong lead in the early results, said he was "shocked" that every progressive candidate leads. "Everybody worked so hard," said a sweaty, emotional Buchanan in the packed VFW hall. — Mike Gore
McGinn campaign consultant John Wyble on the numbers tonight: "We knew we were pushing a rock up a hill." — Bill Lucia
8:50 p.m. Prop.1 supporters buoyed by early results
Seattle fast food workers are toasting positive Prop. 1 results, which look to heading towards a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac - and maybe in Seattle. “The victory in SeaTac means that workers at the Wendy's, McDonald’s, Burger King and Starbucks at our airport will see their pay rise to $15/hour along with thousands of others,” said Ryan Parker, a fast food striker who works at Wendy's in Ballard. “If they can do it in SeaTac, we can do it in Seattle too.”
8:50 p.m. GMO-ers in party mood despite a losing tallyA raucous crowd at the Yes on I-522 campaign party Tuesday night is still oblivious to early results from the Washington Secretary of State that have the labeling initiative down 53-46. But in the buzz of libations and good cheer that surround the campaign's self-congratulation over its organizing efforts, it almost seems a waste to tell them. Organizers and corporate sponsors seem optimistic that even if tonight doesn't pan out as they'd hoped (which is looking less likely), the nation is destined for GMO labeling in some form, at some point.At 8:41 p.m. the campaign had still not announced any results. "Maybe they're just waiting and hoping that if they keep hitting refresh, things will get better," one onlooker mused. — Berit Anderson
8:45 p.m. Sure sounds like a concession
Mayor McGinn isn't conceding yet, but he acknowledged the massive vote deficit facing his campaign. When asked whether, if the percentages hold steady, he has any advice for the next mayor he said "advice was for a later date." The past four years have been his happiest, said McGinn, and his supporters' job now is to keep the city on track and true to its commitments. — Knute Berger
8:30 p.m. And more results
SeaTac Proposition 1 takes the lead, 53.9-46 percent. Go here for our complete results list.
8:15 p.m. Results are trickling in.
With 630,000 tallied, GMO labeling is down 52.6-47.34 percent. King County giving Murray a 56-43 percent lead over McGinn. In the 26th legislative District, Jan Angel is ahead of Nathan Schlicher by about 1,000 votes, with some 27,500 ballots counted.
8:05 p.m. We're waiting . . . waiting . . .
Results are due at 8:15.
8 p.m. En-Dow-ed
According to Christine Lange, staffer to King County Executive Dow Constantine, the exec came to Ed Murray's event to do a television interview about today's Boeing announcement. He left for his own party at Lost Lake diner immediately afterwards. — Matt Fikse Verkerk
7:45 p.m. Tin Lizzie fan club
At the elegant Tin Lizzie Lounge on Lower Queen, Sue Peters' supporters drift in to the dulcet tones of Girl from Ipanema. Retired teacher Katie Aldridge tells me she became a Peters' supporter when the candidate said: "One person's micromanagement is another person's due diligence." School Board Director Marty McLaren calls Peters a longtime ally whom she knows and respects. Teacher Bob Murphy recognizes me. "I read something of yours," he says, adding: "You write right-wing crap! You blame teachers!" — Alison Krupnick
7:35 p.m. The view from Bellevue
Under a grey belly of clouds, candidate Vandana Slatter, running against Lynne Robinson for Bellevue City Council, Pos. 6 made a final attempt to draw in voters, doorbelling a mostly empty neighborhood near Crossroads earlier today. Both Slatter and Robinson are political newcomers, having beat out long-time incumbent Don Davidson in the primaries. Robinson took a healthy lead (48% v. Slatter’s 26%), but Slatter has campaigned as the new face of Bellevue and may pick up some of Davidson’s electorate. The Indian-American, emigrated from Canada and joins two other foreign-born candidates on the city council ballot: Mayor Conrad Lee, from China and his contender Lyndon Heywood, from England.
“My goal in running was to represent everybody. You don’t see as big a number of [immigrant voters],” said Slatter (left), pausing to drop a campaign flyer on a neighbor’s doorstep. “They’re not citizens or maybe they haven’t voted yet.”
The latest numbers indicate that about 40 percent of Bellevue’s population is now minority, and 30 percent is foreign-born. Those statistics have big implications for the future of Bellevue, both in terms of its demographics and the economic engine it could become. With Davidson out, the race for Pos. 6 has been called a political shake-up. Both sought the endorsement of the King County Democrats. “In the last four years, I don’t think the community has been represented by Council," said Robinson, whose public service includes a stint on Bellevue’s Network on Aging. "We’ve not heard enough discussion at Council meetings to indicate that community input is being considered. It seems people come to Council meetings with their minds made up.”
Both candidates said they’d be watching ballots with friends and family, from home. Mayor Conrad Lee (Pos. 2) and incumbent Councilmember Kevin Wallace (Pos. 4) will watch the results trickle in from downtown Bellevue's Hyatt Regency, an evening hosted by the King County Republican Party.
7:30 p.m. For a change of pace: Dow Constantine
Just around the corner from both McGinn and the Murray parties, Dow Constantine's event at Lost Lake Diner, is a study in relaxed, loungey, cocktail-y — so far anyway. — Matt Fikse Verkerk
7:20 p.m. Party Line
Queueing up outside Murray election night party. Lots of young folks — and fashionable at that. — Matt Fikse Verkerk
7 p.m. McGinn camp feeling a little cocky?
McGinn campaign consultant John Wyble sez if his guy is within three points when the results are announced tonight at 8, he can win. — Knute Berger
6:45 p.m. Tone and vibe differ in McGinn-Murray HQs
Having seen both campaign headquarters and now both campaign party venues tonight one thing that is striking is the difference in tone and vibe. The 43 people working in the tight McGinn headquarters in the International District seemed more relaxed and more free to speak off-the-cuff than the 27 folks working Murray's headquarters. Murray's campaigners took a more formal approach to the arrival of media, sharing less information about their tactics on the ground tonight, generally. The McGinn folks readily told us that the telephone callers they had working in five different locations tonight have already surpassed the number of calls they made in the primary campaign. Murray volunteers would only say that they had one other downtown phone banking location in operation tonight and that they hoped to make more than 100,000 calls this campaign. Everybody was generally cagey. But one gets a clear sense of a general difference in the demeanor of the campaigns' volunteer base as well as the composition of the volunteers working on election night. — Matt Fikse Verkerk
6:35 p.m. McGinn spent the morning leafletting
McGinn started the final day of the campaign with a 6 a.m. Columbia City canvassing session. So says spokesperson Aaron Pickus, who added that at such an early hour the mayor was just leaving fact sheets on doors. No knocking. The campaign had five phone banks running throughout the day, including the one at headquarters and another at a United Food and Commercial Workers union hall. By 5 p.m. there were four broadcast news trucks outside 95 Slide, the bar where McGinn is holding his election night party, and a crumpled McGinn for Mayor banner was half-hung on the outside of the building. The party started at 6. Results tba at 8:15. — Bill Lucia
6:30 p.m. GMO press release misfire
It's still more than two hours before the first election returns are slated to come in, but WashPIRG has already called Washington's GMO labeling race: "Initiative 522 is still too close to call," WashPIRG advocate Micaela Preskill declared in a press release. It's unclear why WashPIRG felt the need to declare a race in which results have yet to be released, (butt-emailing pre-written press releases?) but we're glad they're keeping such a close watch on things. — Berit Anderson
6:19 p.m. Dispatch from Capitol Hill
It's been a long campaign and a hard fought fight, and unlike the campaigns of yesterday, with rival cadres in professional finery partying over cocktails at the Washington Plaza (now Westin) or the Olympic (now Fairmont), the two candidates for Mayor of Seattle are celebrating election night at ground zero for a rapidly densifying city and party central for Seattle hipsters: The Pike/Pine district.
Standing in front of the Starbucks at East Pike and Broadway, you can swivel 180 degrees and see both campaign's party spots, spaced exactly two blocks apart. The Murray camp is at Neumos, the McGinn camp is at 95 Slide. Both joints exude authentic urban scruffiness, and the fleet of satellite trucks and sculpted Butter Mayors outside are about the only signs that something beyond the ordinary urban buzz is happening here tonight.
A few drug dealers on the corner have become alarmed at the sudden presence of a lot of cameras, first protesting loudly, then moving on. Otherwise the Capitol Hill night scene continues. One interesting question: whether tonight's results are conclusive or not, will either Ed Murray or Mike McGinn venture out to take the less than one minute walk to offer a greeting, congratulations or concession handshake to the other? Given how rare it is for arch-rival campaigns to be within shouting distance of each other on election night, the answer to that question could end up being strategically complicated by what we see when the vote counts drop. — Matt Fikse Verkerk
6 p.m. Off-year, my ass!
This was supposed to be an "off year" for Washington elections, but somehow we have four local races getting national attention: GMO labeling, Sea-Tac's $15 minimum wage, the mayor's race and Sawant's socialist whirlwind. Much like our start-up sector, Washington is becoming an incubator for experimental initiatives. Which makes working in the media just that much more exciting come November 5th. Off year, my ass.
5:55 p.m. School board squeaker
The neck-in-neck school board race between Sue Peters and Suzanne Dale Estey to represent District IV (Phinney Ridge, Ballard, Queen Anne and Magnolia) has attracted big money and big names — surprising for a job that is grassroots in nature. What’s at the heart of this race? Passion. And money. Peters supporters say their candidate’s knowledge of the issues and passion for her anti-corporate education reform agenda make her the best person for the job. She is endorsed by nationally renowned anti-education reform activist Diane Ravitch. Dale Estey supporters are just as passionate about their cool-headed (some say lackluster) candidate, who brings experience working at every level of government and, they believe, will be a more constructive and open-minded school board representative. At election time, primary winner Dale Estey, who far outspent her opponent, was tainted by her supporters’ last minute negative campaign blast against Peters and a perception that big money is calling the shots. Peters wonders why billionaires are buying a school board race. Dale Estey says she has received 810 donations from more than 750 donors; 450 of them gave $100 or less. The race is too close to call. Recount? — Alison Krupnick
5:20 p.m. May the butter man win
These mayoral butter busts (Ed Murray's on the left) will be at each candidates' election night headquarters — standing behind podiums. No meltdowns. Fingers crossed. — Knute Berger
2:49 p.m. Students voting heavily at Western Washington
With just a hair over 25 percent of ballots returned in Whatcom County as of this afternoon, the contentious race for County Council seats seems to be off to a quiet start despite the council’s big role in permitting of a proposed coal port.
On the Western Washington University campus, however, voters with ballots in hand are steadily streaming toward the newly-installed on-campus ballot drop box. The box, stationed outside of the student union building, has been getting filled so quickly that some voters weren't able to fully deposit their ballots inside. But, fortunately, Whatcom County election workers have been steady in their visits to the box, sweeping up ballots — and making room for more.
— Mike Gore
2:32 p.m. Prop 1 Yin and Yang
SeaTac baggage handlers (left to right) Sushila Banfal, Aden Omar and Alemakehu Anja showing the love for a $15 minimum wage. — Allyce Andrew
2:25 p.m. Guess Alaska Airlines is a No.
2:20 p.m. McGinn vs. Murray, the Election Night Party Invite battle
This is the "jets actively cooling" phase of any election day, for media types. Waiting for polls to "close" and vote counts and spinmeisters to make an apperance, so why not delve into social media, always a realm of clarity and insight, right?
Much has been made of the two Seattle mayoral campaign efforts to woo voters via social media. In 2009, Facebook and Twitter played a significant role in incumbent Mike McGinn's upstart victory as he utilized both platforms to organize and motivate youthful supporters. Lots has changed since then, especially the ubiquity and proliferation of new social platforms, new hardware like tablets (the iPad didn't even exist last time around) and faster smartphones, all of which vie for smaller and smaller bits of user attention spans.
Facebook and Twitter strategies are de rigeur for a campaign to be credible these days. Given that, we thought an inexcusably unscientific assessment of the two campaigns' "Party Invite RSVP Factor" might help pass the time. Both campaigns invited groups of people to their election night parties tonight on Capitol Hill via Facebook. Here's how the results of that plebiscite are shaping up as of early afternoon. (McGinn's invite is here; Murray's here.)
McGinn for Mayor Election Night Party at 95 Slide - 772 invitees, 146 "Yes"
Party Invite RSVP Factor = 19.9 percent
Murray for Mayor Election Night Party at Neumo's - 443 invitees, 207 "Yes"
Party Invite RSVP Factor = 47.6 percent
Lest that look like an insurmountable party lead for Ed Murray, it's vital to leaven such brazen concluding with some reality from a few other forms of social media. Let's go to the birds: Twitter. In that realm McGinn is way ahead, probably because of his four year headstart in campaign tweeting. The @michaelmcginn campaign twitter account has 2,537 followers; @edmurray4mayor has only 908 followers as of midday today. The incumbent advantage is huge, though, when it comes to the feathery realm. Mayor McGinn's official twitter account, from which he doesn't campaign but does actively connect with consituents on a routine basis, has 16,420 followers. But ... do they vote? What's more: tweet production rates vary wildly. McGinn's minions have tweeted 1,490 times on his behalf while Murray's minions have chirped a mere 337.
All this tells us not much, except that social media is still, notoriously, all over the map. There's a valley of silicon and a city of emeralds full of people trying to make practical sense of social media in campaigns of all kinds. Tonight's vote results won't help figure that out. But at least we know there's going to be a couple of happening parties on the hill tonight. Time for another cup of coffee. — Matt Fikse Verkerk
2:03 p.m. Live from the drop-box
The ballot drop-box just outside the King County administration building on 4th in downtown Seattle saw a steady stream of last-minute voters today. At 1:30 p.m. I watched just over 30 voters cast ballots in under 10 minutes. A shop clerk at the indoor café said she saw voters lining up throughout the day. Other than having trouble finding the ballot box (the building has entrances at both 4th and 5th), she said voting seemed to be easy.
Asked why he was casting his ballot on the final afternoon, one voter said he had been “debating between candidates” until today. He said he had voted yes on Initiative 522, the GMO labeling initiative. That seemed to be true of several voters I spoke with. The 25-year-old said he had moved from Chicago and found elections here to be better organized, faint praise coming from a Chicagoan. One woman said she likes “to drop it in the box. I like the feeling of belonging.” She said the administrative initiatives were confusing in their level of detail, and required more time than planned.
King County election officials yesterday said they expected about 51 percent turnout in this off-year election but yesterday the county had received just over 30 percent. — Greg Shaw
1:53 p.m. Apathy Update
Okay. Not to harp on the voting thing. But I just went out for coffee (Umbria in Pioneer Square) and asked my favorite baristo — the one with the groovy glasses and his long hair pulled up in a bun — if he'd voted yet. Long pause. Wince. "I went back and forth," he said. "But I decided to sit this one out. Voting just seems more and more irrelevant." — Mary Bruno
1:35 p.m. Barrier to voting
There’s a convenient ballot drop box in Ballard with a 3-minute parking spot right in front of it. But for some reason the entire block was marked with no-stopping signs this morning and ominous warnings that offenders would be towed. Update: Seattle Department of Transportation checked into it and says it is OK to drop ballots off; no one will be ticketed for a quick stop. Richard Sheridan of the department says there will be a conversation after the election about how to handle Election Day access there. Neither the Police Department nor SDOT could find any record of a request to close off the spots, but presumably it was done with the intention of facilitating access to the ballot box, Sheridan said. – Joe Copeland
1:30 p.m. Apathy Report
Could it be those no-stopping signs in front of ballot drop boxes that is depressing voter turnout in town? I mean, what gives with Seattle voters? The nation is glued to Washington State right now. The New York Times, NPR, The NewsHour and MSNBC are among the major media to cover some of the candidates and ballot measures we’re voting on today. (See Bill Lucia's entry below.) Except . . . we’re not voting! King County Elections officials projected a 57 percent turnout in Seattle, but as of last night, we hadn’t even broken 30 percent. Come on, people! — Mary Bruno
12:50 p.m. - Three Scenarios in Seattle Mayor's Race
With mail-in voting now the norm, the Mike McGinn and Ed Murray mayoral campaign parties — located at bars that are two blocks from each other in Seattle's Pike/Pine neighborhood — will await the thud of tonight's only vote drop at about 8:15 p.m. Once that happens, we'll be looking at one of three scenarios depending on who's on top and by how much:
Let's call the first scenario Expected by Pundits and Pollsters. If Ed Murray emerges with a significant lead, something north of 10 points ahead of incumbent Mike McGinn, pundits will be asking if McGinn will concede the race tonight. Whether McGinn does that or not will tell us how his campaign is thinking about late-breaking undecided voters in this race. King County Elections says early ballot returns so far are below expectations, and detailed polling insight of undecideds didn't emerge during the campaign, so If Murray has a chunky lead but McGinn still hangs on, tomorrow's additional vote drop is key to seeing what, if anything, is happening with those late voters.
The second scenario: Too Close to Call - Really. If McGinn and Murray are within 10 points the McGinn campaign may say it's too close to call while the Murray camp differs. If they're within five points, then everyone will be saying it is too close to call, because that close a race was never expected, publicly at least, by the Murray campaign. A gap smaller than five points puts the whole thing in horse-race territory and it's likely to take several days of vote drops before we get to see who will pull ahead by a nose. That's how things shaped up in 2009 with McGinn and his opponent Joe Mallahan, with both campaigns trudging back to their HQs day after day to learn what the latest counts are.
Scenario three: The World is Now Upside Down. That would happen if McGinn emerges with a lead after tonight's vote count. That outcome, which no media or pundit, mainstream or fringe, expected, would also be an indication that the pundits, pollsters and media don't have the hold on conventional wisdom they thought they did. It wouldn't necessary mean game over, either way, but it would mean that everyone who predicted a Murray blow out will need to recalibrate his or her radar. That scenario would offer the most persistent rewards for breathless reporters, if not the voters.
We'll have a sharper sense, of course, when the votes come in tonight. Robert Mak of SeattleTopStory.com, Crosscut's Bill Lucia, and yours truly will be reporting live from both campaigns in the midst of Pike/Pine, Seattle's hipster haven. — Matt Fikse Verkerk
12:35 p.m. — Who’s watching?
A number of Washington state races have grabbed national headlines in the run-up to Election Day. The New York Times ran a story this morning about the Seattle mayor’s race. The contest, which pits Mayor Mike McGinn against state Sen. Ed Murray, was also listed on MSNBC’s rundown of “quirky, serious and hard fought” mayor's races around the nation. NPR included the mayoral matchup on its list of nine elections to watch. Also, on NPR's list was the high-dollar state Senate showdown in the 26th District between Republican Rep. Jan Angel and Democratic state Sen. Nathan Schlicher. The district encompasses part of Kitsap and Pierce Counties and has seen over $2 million in campaign contributions, with big money flowing from a pro-corporate California donor.
The Washington Post tossed a firecracker into the Seattle mayor’s race last week when it ran an article about Comcast’s donations to political action committees opposed to McGinn’s re-election. The “other” Washington's newspaper gave its coverage another dash of Evergreen yesterday, with a post on its Wonkblog about Initiative-522, the ballot measure that would require special labeling for genetically modified food.
The Post wasn’t the only D.C. outlet to spill some virtual ink over Washington’s electoral action. Politico’s Morning Energy mentioned the races for four Whatcom County Council seats this morning. The results in those contests could stack the county’s council either for or against the massive Cherry Point coal export terminal. Enviros and coal companies took note, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars. — Bill Lucia
11:30am - Scenes from Election Day
Hooky for McGinn (and GMO labeling). Two Seattle high schoolers skip classes to sway the vote. Is that a punishable offense?
— Allyce Andrew
Mike McGinn, underdog incumbent, papers Belltown. — Allyce Andrew