On the final full day before the end of the 2013 Seattle mayor’s race, both candidates continued to campaign at full speed.
Late Monday morning, State Sen. Ed Murray held a press conference with a group of high-profile endorsers, police officers and firefighters in Pioneer Square. Mayor Mike McGinn, meanwhile, spent part of the afternoon knocking on doors in Rainier Valley, imploring last-minute voters to turn in their ballots — and, of course, to fill in the bubble next to his name.
In recent days, both campaigns have slung some mud. Over the weekend, Murray’s camp accused McGinn staffers of “cyber-bullying” a Planned Parenthood employee by posting her phone number on Facebook. And on Monday, McGinn continued to harp on Murray’s unpaid University of Washington parking tickets and the free meals the state senator received from Comcast lobbyists earlier this year.
As he has done throughout the campaign, Murray used the morning press conference to assail the mayor's record on public safety and the way he handled the Department of Justice investigation into the Seattle Police Department. Among the allies Murray had on hand were City Council members Sally Clark, Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess, King County Sheriff John Urquhart and former mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck.
“We’ve had a mayor for almost four years who has ignored the issue of public safety,” Murray said.
In response to the flak from Murray, the McGinn campaign pointed to Seattle Police Department statistics, which showed that the annual number of major crimes in the city declined during the mayor’s tenure and was at a 25-year low in 2012.
The data also indicate, however, that violent crime rose slightly between 2010 and 2012. And the city was shaken in recent months by the daytime shooting of a downtown bus driver and a random stabbing attack that killed a college professor and seriously wounded his girlfriend. Occidental Park, where Murray delivered his remarks on Monday, is only blocks away from where the stabbing occurred.
“Crime is not down in all neighborhoods and not all crime is down,” Murray said. Dressed in a suit, with a light blue shirt and darker blue tie, he stood near the park’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial, flanked by his supporters and facing an almost equal number of reporters.
“Of course it isn’t,” McGinn said later in the day when asked about Murray’s comments. “We’ve made public safety a priority for the last four years, we’ve invested more dollars into it, we’re seeing results.”
“He’s grandstanding on public safety right now,” McGinn said, “because he doesn’t like the questions that are being raised with regard to Comcast and with regard to his parking tickets.”
Comcast was pushed into the campaign’s spotlight last week after the Washington Post ran a story that said the broadband and cable company contributed thousands of dollars to political action committees that oppose McGinn’s re-election.
McGinn was joined on his afternoon canvassing session by longtime Seattle community activist and columnist, Charlie James. The mayor wore a bright red Patagonia raincoat and a dark gray sweater and he carried a pair of wool gloves. His campaign selected the voting precinct because staffers believed it was dense with supporters and they wanted to make sure that as many as possible mailed in or dropped off their ballots before Tuesday’s deadline.
As the mayor and the activist worked their way through the side streets they encountered many unanswered doors, a handful of supporters and a couple of intimidating dogs. When McGinn approached a front door with a sign that said, “Private Property Do Not Enter,” he turned back, saying, “You don’t have to go to every place.”
Asked about how he felt this year compared to the final days of the 2009 race, McGinn said, “I was really sure that we were going to win four years ago, I really thought we were going to win. Now I just think we’re going to win.”
Murray, too, refused to display any late-race bravado. When asked whether he’d reached out to any potential police chief candidates, he said that it would be a waste of time trying to find a chief "when I need to spend my time raising money and reaching out to constituents.”
“I don’t believe I’ve got this thing won,” Murray said, “until I see the results.”