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This District 3 candidate just won big-time Seattle business support

Orion at his campaign announcement this spring on Broadway

Calling it a “huge” moment in his campaign that will “shape the race going forward,” District 3 candidate Egan Orion has won the endorsement — and the financial backing powered by Vulcan, Amazon, and Expedia — of CASE, the political arm of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

“They like a lot of Seattle voters are looking for pragmatic folks to get on the council,” Orion said. “Somebody who can work with all sorts of different groups.”

The pro-business and anti-street disorder CASE — the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy — announced its 2019 primary endorsements Wednesday morning.

Orion said he will not take campaign contributions from business PACs — but the group is likely to be a big spender on his behalf.

Tuesday night, Orion came in dead last in a vote to win the key endorsement of the 43rd District Democrats on a night when none of the challengers rose to the occasion despite a polarizing incumbent in Kshama Sawant.

Orion said CASE’s choice positions him as the best candidate to face off with Sawant. “She’s framed her campaign as her a binary choice between workers and big business,” he said. “I see things in a much more complex way.”

CASE says it endorses candidates who “demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the quality of life and economic opportunities for all Seattleites” on four core issues:

  1. Traffic in and around Seattle is getting worse. CASE supports candidates who will prioritize reducing traffic congestion, improving transit, and helping move people and goods faster around the city.
  2. In Seattle’s neighborhoods, including downtown, homelessness is a major concern for residents, visitors, and local businesses. CASE supports candidates who will advance long-term systemic reforms to the City of Seattle and King County’s approach this issue. These reforms should reflect best practices to get more people out of homelessness and into permanent, stable housing, as outlined in the reports done by Barbara Poppe and Focus Strategies.
  3. Seattle is experiencing incredible prosperity, however some people are being left behind. CASE supports candidates who will help grow local businesses, expand family-wage jobs, and encourage building housing for people of all income levels.
  4. Seattle is rapidly growing and changing. CASE supports candidates who understand what makes Seattle great, and will uphold those values while continually striving to make Seattle one of the best cities in the nation to live and work.

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With Tuesday night’s “no endorsement” session of the 43rd Dems as the latest example, the 2019 primary with its unprecedented large field of candidates might end up a race powered by groups who back up their positions with the most cash. Powered by huge contributions from companies like Vulcan, Amazon, and Expedia and smaller donations from dozens of smaller companies and organizations, CASE reported some $260,000 in expenditures last year and around $300,000 in cash on hand to start 2019. The newly formed pro-business People for Seattle is also expected to provide similar firepower.

District 3 could end up the most expensive race in the city. Incumbent Sawant said part of her decision to forego the Democracy Voucher program were her campaign’s concerns about campaign spending caps. Sawant has said she expects the pool of spending to oppose her to grow in 2019 after Amazon spent an “eye-popping $350,000 in 2017 to buy their mayor Jenny Durkan.”

The 2019 primary slate of CASE endorsements

Many elements of Orion’s campaign platform appear to be a good match for CASE. On homelessness, Orion has said the focus should be on “permanent supportive housing” over increased spending on emergency services. “We are already paying to assist them but in temporary ways that contributes to their suffering and increases our long-term investment.” He has also called for more accountability and better auditing at City Hall “to make the hard calls and defund organizations who aren’t doing the work we’re paying them to do.”

Orion entered the race for Sawant’s seat this spring as director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and with years of leading PrideFest. The chamber — which is not affiliated with the downtown group — has since shut down operations as it faced dwindling financial support from the city.

Orion’s leading opponents, meanwhile, have been trading blows over labor endorsements. Zachary DeWolf, currently a member of the school board and a staffer at All Home King County, touted his latest wins — support from Teamsters 763, Ironworkers 86, and SEIU 775, each “had supported Councilmember Sawant during her previous run for City Council District 3,” his campaign noted. The Seattle Subway transit advocacy group, meanwhile, threw its D3 support behind both DeWolf and cannabis entrepreneur Logan Bowers.

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15 thoughts on “This District 3 candidate just won big-time Seattle business support” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. Trying to ram the BIA extension down the throats of the 15 Ave community was “seeing things in a complex way”?

    Truly the Chamber of Commerce candidate.

    • I’m a 15th Ave business owner and never felt like anything was being rammed down my throat. I don’t think others felt this way either.

      • I didn’t support the BIA extension and did not appreciate the effort to extend it to areas around 15th and 19th. However, most of the Chamber’s efforts in that regard occurred during the ptevious director, Sierra Hansen’s tenure. Hanging that effort on this candidate seems inappropriate.

  2. Good point. It was during Sierra’s tenure. I though she was always very upfront and considerate in her presentation for the proposal.

    • Which part of the agenda do you disagree with?

      More transit?
      An evidence-based response to homelessness?
      Family wage jobs and growing small businesses?
      The super nebulous pablum about values?

      This seems like the most innocuous ‘big business’ agenda I’ve ever seen. Usually I’m not a Chamber of Commerce person, but I really think we need a change of direction on the Council, and they don’t seem to be proposing anything I actually disagree with.

      • Amazon held the city hostage during the head tax debate. That is not innocuous.

        Amazon had the laws changed so that most startups can’t get non-compete agreements… but Amazon still can. So they can poach employees, but they can’t be poached. That’s not innocuous.

        Whatever his platform is, if he needs Amazon’s backing to win, he will be working for them.

        We’ve seen that Boeing has an incredible amount of power to change laws in this state, and Inslee has been blunt that they engage in open extortion to get tax breaks. Amazon is starting to get in on that game.

        If they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a politician, they expect to get something in return. Some platform on a website hardly matters compared to that.

      • “Amazon held the city hostage during the head tax debate. That is not innocuous.”

        Are you forgetting the meetings with hundreds of citizens, including construction workers, who loudly voiced their disapproval of the head tax? There was widespread resistance to the head tax idea amongst a LOT of the Seattle electorate, outside the echo chamber of several of the City Council and their groupies. The idea that it was Amazon against all the voters was nonsense. They didn’t “hold the city hostage”. A lot of Seattleites agreed with them.

      • @ Moving On: Agree! CASE’s “four core issues” are perfectly reasonable and centrist, and will make Seattle a better city. They apparently are Egan’s issues too, and make me all the more likely to support him.

        Someone wrote “right wing” on one of Egan’s campaign posters. Only in Seattle.

      • this is like Seattle’s version of Identity Politics/City Council edition. All based not on agreeing or disagreeing with actual positions, but on who you *think* they are from inferences and assumptions by who else supports them. Not always a good predictor of how the person would govern. Nothing Orion has espoused seems anything near right-wing, but he gets slurred anyway.

  3. @Brendan. So what if Amazon supports Orion. Sawant, Mosqueda, O’Brien, Harrell, Herbold, and Durkan, are controlled by SEIU (David Rolf & Kylie Rolf) and the UFCW. Their results suck so lets try something new.

    • You’re comparing Amazon, a company that prides itself on paying little to no taxes and has consistently demonstrated terrible worker rights and actively campaigned against collective bargaining for it’s workers to fight for better rights, to unions who fight for better worker rights, wages and benefits?

      Forgive me, but I’ll take the candidates “controlled” by unions rather than candidates “controlled” by massive corporations.

      It’d be nice if we could get candidates that are controlled by their constituents, but our country doesn’t seem to care enough to vote those candidates into office and here we are!

  4. So far Orion is my guy. We need more sensibility on the city council. An activism based council is obviously NOT working.

  5. My Power Rankings:
    1. Egan Orion
    2a. Ami Nguyen
    2b. Logan Bowers – lose that ridiculous unicycle (!!) and you have a strong shot at 2a
    3. Justin (@jseattle) – one can hope
    4. Zachary DeWolf
    5. cd neighbor – can always count on well thought out responses whenever he/she comments on here
    6. d revees – the voice of reason on all things pro-cyclist
    7. Pat Murakami
    204. My neighbor’s pet dog
    3,761. PD – doubt ageism is a strong platform to run on but stranger things have happened (see: rank 1,062,587b)

    1,062,587a. Kshama Sawant
    1,062,587b. Donald Trump