It is too early to say if Amazon’s massive injections of cash into Seattle City Council races has backfired but it has helped District 3 incumbent Kshama Sawant earn a key victory she had so far failed to win on her own in her battle against challenger Egan Orion — the support of her fellow council members.
Friday morning, Sawant’s campaign made the official announcement of key endorsements for the Socialist Alternative candidate from the council’s two citywide representatives — Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena González.
“It is critical that progressives and socialists are uniting against big business and their blatant attempt to buy the elections,” Sawant said in a statement on the endorsements. “We stand together in saying that Seattle is not for sale! These corporate interests don’t just want to defeat me and other progressive candidates like Shaun Scott and Tammy Morales, they want to roll back the historic victories working people have won in Seattle, like the $15/hour minimum wage, the hotel workers bill of rights, and our landmark renters rights policies.”
The move from Mosqueda and González follows their appearance Thursday with Sawant at a protest outside the Amazon Spheres against the company’s decision to pump some $1.5 million into the downtown chamber of commerce’s PAC and support of candidates championing business friendly — and anti-head tax — platforms.
Both the citywide representatives are supporting Sawant as part of a slate of candidates who are being targeted by much of Amazon and the chamber’s spending — Lisa Herbold in D1, Tammy Morales in D2, Shaun Scott in D4, Dan Strauss in D6, and Andrew Lewis in D7. Incumbent Debora Juarez in D5, meanwhile, doesn’t make the progressive roster — she won the support of the downtown chamber against conservative Ann Davison Sattler.
“Here in Seattle, we’ve elected pro-worker, pro-union champions and we are unapologetic in our fight to build worker power. That’s why corporations are running scared and have dumped millions into Seattle City Council races because they want to roll back our progressive gains. This election – stand with the workers and voters who demand their voices and votes count, and against the million-dollar check aimed at buying this election,” Mosqueda said in the statement announcing her Sawant support. “I urge District 3 residents to vote for Kshama Sawant, who I’m proud to serve with on City Council, so we can continue to fight for workers’ rights, and show that our democracy is not for sale.”
“With Amazon fighting all of us, it’s not about whether you’re a Democrat or a socialist. What matters is our movement, our call to build a more just city, fundamentally built on our progressive values,” González said. “That’s why I urge District 3 voters to support Kshama Sawant, along with the slate of progressive candidates running in other districts.”
Even as part of the larger effort for the Amazon-targeted slate, the move by Mosqueda and González to embrace Sawant is a big shift. In the Primary, both chose to endorse Zachary DeWolf. Though his challenge to Sawant ultimately fizzled, the decision showed criticism of Sawant’s style and collaboration on the council had done real damage to her relationships in City Hall.
González’s efforts also help set the stage for her proposed campaign finance legislation that would ban donations of more than $5,000 to Seattle PACs and would ban donations by “foreign-influenced corporations.”
Mosqueda, meanwhile, co-sponsored the head tax legislation that was approved and quickly repealed in the summer of 2018 and has now apparently inspired Amazon’s cash-flushed approach to civic involvement.
In Friday’s announcement, Sawant’s campaign also said State Senator Rebecca Saldaña and Washington State House Representative Nicole Macri had joined the incumbent’s endorsement roster.
No city council members have endorsed Orion’s campaign though he did receive the endorsement of King County Executive Dow Constantine and Macri’s fellow 43rd District Rep. Jamie Pedersen. Former mayor and city council member Tim Burgess — who now runs a business and public safety-focused PAC — has also endorsed the Broadway Business Improvement Area head and PrideFest founder.
Sawant’s campaign, meanwhile, also pulled off another surprising move this week in the wake of Orion’s decision to pay $1,000 to settle a campaign ethics complaint over his recent $6,300 cover advertisement on The Stranger. Sawant how has her own Stranger cover placement and the Capitol Hill paper, presumably, has made another $6,300 on the race for District 3. As many will note, this advertisement has the required campaign disclosure in plain sight.
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