In the Green Lake neighborhood on Wednesday, Michael McVicker was looking for undecided voters. He wanted to talk to them about why they should support state Sen. Ed Murray for mayor. Dressed in a black University of Washington soft-shell jacket, blue jeans and running shoes, McVicker was hoofing it over sidewalks covered in dead leaves, on a gray but dry afternoon, knocking on doors.
With only days remaining in the 2013 Seattle mayor’s race, Murray and Mayor Mike McGinn are relying heavily on carefully targeted volunteer efforts to squeeze every possible vote out of a stubbornly undecided chunk of the city's electorate.
Among the volunteers are recent college graduates, high school students, transportation engineers, community organizers, long-time Seattleites and newcomers to the city. There are phone bankers who’ve never been involved in politics and canvassers who are veterans of past referendums. Some of the volunteers are putting in a couple hours each week, while others are pulling consistent 10-plus hour days, fueled by snacks, coffee, pizza and late-game enthusiasm.
During the past week, volunteers have worked phones for McGinn at his International District headquarters, at union halls and from their homes. Murray’s camp, meanwhile, deployed canvassing teams in neighborhoods like Green Lake to "drop" campaign literature and talk to voters, while Murray himself is walking Capitol Hill and Georgetown. Murray’s campaign has also been holding nightly phone bank sessions at their headquarters on Pike Street and Summit Avenue and at the nearby Liberty Bar.
McGinn's operation seems more freewheeling and Murray's more buttoned-down. Volunteers for McGinn came and went from his headquarters throughout Thursday afternoon. At one point, a Jack White rock song played on an IPod near the entrance and the room was abuzz with multiple languages. In contrast, Murray's phone banking effort on Wednesday was a scheduled event, between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. On a wall in Murray's shop were handmade posters outlining tips like, "Smile when you dial" and "Be Genuine."