If economist Kshama Sawant is to, indeed, stage an overtime comeback against challenger Egan Orion, it will start as her previous late surges have — with a quiet, subtle reversal of fortune in the first stages of the late vote counts.
Wednesday’s second release of King County results showed Sawant gaining a small amount of ground on her District 3 challenger — but only by falling short a little less painfully than in her surprisingly deep Election Night gap.
With just over another 3,400 ballots counted Wednesday, the race now stands at Orion, 53.8%, Sawant, 45.8%. The gap is down to a flat 8 points — but now more than 1,900 votes separate the candidates.
Tuesday night, CHS reported on the strong showing of Orion on an Election Night when the influence of downtown chamber and Amazon cash seemed to have not been mostly overshadowed by Seattle’s preference for liberal moderates. Orion described his early 8.4% lead as squarely in the “OK” range for safe distance from the get out the vote strength of the Sawant campaign.
“Win or lose, and most likely it’s a win,” Orion said to raucous applause at his Election Night party at Sole Repair in front of supporters including his parents and brother., “I want to say a big thank you to all of you here tonight. It’s all of the voters across District 3 who took a chance on this political newcomer.”
Sawant, after the numbers dropped, rallied her supporters at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center in the Central District with a legendary tale from her past.
“Those of you who were with us in 2013, will remember what happened,” Sawant said.
That year, Sawant beat incumbent Richard Conlin, On election night 2013, Conlin was more than 7 points ahead of Sawant, with a 6,000 vote lead but Sawant refused to concede the race. She ended up winning by one percentage point.
The Sawant camp should have hope. With an experienced ground game already in full motion starting with this weekend’s “get out the vote” efforts, the Sawant Socialist Alternative campaigns have proven themselves as strong finishers that produce a powerful push of support with ballots cast in the final days — and hours — of the race. In this summer’s Primary, Sawant added four points to her lead in follow-up ballot counts following her top showing on Election Night.
Turnout, meanwhile, is strengthening in District 3 and has reached just over 47%. There are still more than 10,000 ballots to count. King County Elections said Wednesday that it estimates about 55% of Seattle’s results have been reported as of the latest update.
In addition to the daily updates as King County counts new ballots, both campaigns will also work to “cure” ballots with issues like signatures that don’t match a person’s voter registration. Tuesday night, Sawant supporters implored the crowd to donate to support the ballot recovery cause.
Despite his lead, Orion also acknowledged that the race did not end on Election Night. “It’s been a long election season and it’s not quite over yet,” he said.
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