We’ll have wait to see if Seattle’s new district-based City Council will become gridlocked in ward politics, but the competing interests within the districts themselves, especially in District 3, could prove to be an even more influential dynamic.
Following last week’s primary election, it’s clear there are some deep divisions between District 3 neighborhoods over socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant and Democrat Pamela Banks.
Political consultant Benjamin Anderstone dug into the the raw election data for Crosscut to see how Sawant and Banks faired at the neighborhood level. Not surprising, Sawant dominated Capitol Hill and the Central District, but she was clobbered by Banks in the more affluent precincts along Lake Washington.
(Sawant) did well this time around in urban Capitol Hill (61 percent) and the Central District (64 percent). Support is much thinner on the ground in the affluent neighborhoods of Madison Park and Washington Park, where Sawant placed third with 16 percent each. At the Broadmoor Golf Club, Seattle’s only Republican precinct, she polled at only 6 percent.
Sawant’s main opponent, Pamela Banks, unsurprisingly fared best in these neighborhoods – 60 percent at Madison Park and 63 percent at Washington Park. These are unequivocal results. Primary results suggest Sawant could be on track for a strong showing, but it certainly won’t be a unanimous one.
Sawant has picked up two points in the district-wide ballot count since the first drop on August 4th, extending her lead to 52% of the vote to Banks’ 34%. Some were anticipating a bigger showing from Sawant. In 2013 she won 58% of the vote in District 3 precincts and did even better on Capitol Hill. Then-incumbent Richard Conlin has backed Banks, along with six other sitting City Council members.
The District 3 split is not new. CHS previously broke down the Mike McGinn-Ed Murray border war after the 2013 mayoral election.
Sawant’s energetic campaign machine will undoubtedly kick into high gear in the coming months to get more younger voters to turn out in the general election. CHS previously took a look at Socialist Alternative, the political party and activist group that helped launch Sawant into elected office. We also examined how Banks was shaped by the City of Seattle, where she worked for two decades.
Since the primary, both Banks and Sawant have taken a breather from major campaign activities. On primary night, Banks told CHS she planed to celebrate by retreating into a “small cabin” for a few days to rest before what comes next — a likely bruising battle with a strong incumbent opponent.
The recent controversy over Black Lives Matter Seattle activists disrupting presidential candidate Bernie Sanders did provide one opportunity for some to scrutinize the City Council candidates. Sawant, who is backing Sanders and spoke at the Westlake Park event, stayed mum on the direct action that has caused a lot of hand wringing on the left. Speaking to Publicola, Banks applauded Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford for their actions saying “change has come too slowly.”
Here’s a look at some of the other analysis of the District 3 race.
- Both Sawant and Banks spent nearly $20 per vote they received in campaign expenditures, according to Heidi Groover’s analysis on Slog.
- Publicola used eight snap metrics to analyze each City Council race, including what it means for Mayor Ed Murray. The analysis on District 3 points out that “A race that pits two left-wing women of color against each other for a seat on a predominately white council is an unfortunate expenditure of time and energy.”
- Comedian Brett Hamil reports on Sawant’s controversial kitten rescue and Banks’ call to save baby squirrels trapped in District 3 storm drains.
Three candidates won’t be continuing on to the general election. Morgan Beach will be turning her focus back to her full-time job in corporate donations at the Red Cross. But keep a look out for her on Seatte’s civic scene. “I will continue to push for paid parental leave, small business assistance, culturally relevant healthcare and access to childcare,” Beach said in a statement.
Rod Hearne kept things similarly upbeat about his continued work in politics. “I’m looking forward to staying involved in the life of Seattle through its community organizations, its arts organizations and, of course through its politics,” Hearn said in a statement.
And while CHS hasn’t reached him, we suspect Lee Carter will getting around to enjoying retirement, which he planed to do just before entering the race earlier this year.