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They’re trying to recall Kshama Sawant — What happens next?

Recall Sawant representative Henry Bridger (Image: CHS)

Backers of the campaign against City Councilmember Kshama Sawant are hoping to put the recall question to District 3 voters on a special election ballot of its own, a campaign representative said at a Thursday afternoon press conference in Cal Anderson Park following Thursday’s state Supreme Court decision allowing the recall to continue.

Henry Bridger, campaign manager and chair of the Recall Sawant campaign, said the recall vote cannot appear on the August primary ballot and officials have told the campaign a special election can’t be held between the primary and the November General Election. The recall campaign backers also don’t want to appear on the General Election ballot, Bridger said.

High turnout could be a concern with general elections typically bringing out higher rates of participation. But this D3 question could be different. With the 2021 elections deciding both a hotly contested mayoral race and the two citywide seats on the Seattle City Council, there may be concern about the recall question driving heavy turnout in District 3, potentially impacting the massively important races.

“This is about her, not about electing someone,” Bridger said Thursday at the Cal Anderson press conference when asked about the strategy.

State Supreme Court rules Sawant recall can move forward — UPDATE

The recall proponents have 180 days to gather a little over 10,000 signatures — or 25% of the nearly 43,000 votes cast in her November 2019 race — in District 3 across Capitol Hill, the Central District, and nearby neighborhoods to put the issue on the ballot. Despite the unanimous Supreme Court opinion supporting the lower court ruling allowing the recall to move forward, Recall Sawant can’t immediately start collecting signatures.

Bridger said the language of the ballot synopsis summarizing the recall charges against Sawant must now be finalized back in the lower King County Superior Court before the signature effort can formally begin. The recall campaign hopes that issue will be wrapped up quickly — perhaps next week, Bridger said.

So, who is trying to Recall Sawant? Only Bridger appeared at Thursday’s conference. He thanked original recall complaint filer Ernie Lou but said the campaign was moving forward under guidance of a committee now, not the D3 resident. The members are “retirees, hard workers,” Bridger said, “no billionaires” as Bridger said Sawant and the Kshama Solidarity campaign has characterized the recall effort.

Kshama Solidarity, meanwhile, is already moving forward on its efforts to organize against the recall effort even it is unlikely to be able to do more than convince a few in the middle ground to not sign the petition. The group is holding a rally at Cal Anderson Saturday “to build the Kshama Solidarity Campaign and defend against this attack on all working people.”

UPDATE: “We are stepping up our decline-to-sign effort with a COVID-safe grassroots campaign,” a campaign spokesperson tells CHS. “Our next step will be our rally tomorrow (Saturday) at Cal Anderson Park, beginning at 11am and taking place with full masking and social distancing.”

“We will counter the misinformation, right-wing and racist tropes, and outright lies of the recall campaign by building a continuous movement of working people with broad support in District 3 and throughout Seattle,” the rep said.

Both campaigns have built hefty warchests totaling over $720,000 combined, according to SEEC filings. The pro-Sawant camp has raised over $426,000, as of Tuesday, and the recall effort nearly $295,000. Compare this to her 2019 re-election bid when Sawant raised over $586,000 and her opponent nearly $404,000.

Sawant’s effort has been fueled by larger sums with nearly much of the campaign’s cash coming in increments of $700 or more. Around 74% of the recall supporters contributed $25 or less, compared to about 35% for Sawant. The pro-Sawant average contribution size is $107 and the anti-Sawant one is $67.

Those small donations add up to one big factor in the campaign — contributors at $25 or below don’t have to disclose their names.

Meanwhile, the contribution totals back up one criticism from the Recall Sawant crowd — 65% of Sawant’s financial support has come from outside the city. Only 34% of the recall campaign came from beyond Seattle — or reported no address.

Top recall donors include Jeannie Nordstrom, the wife of the former chairman and CEO of the department store, art gallery owner Stacey Levitan, and web hosting firm Sound Strategies. You can view a full list of Recall Sawant contributions here.

Max $1,000 contributors to the pro-Sawant side include individuals from Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and several from Pittsburgh. Prominent local donors include a University of Washington coronavirus researcher who has been called the “Nate Silver of public health.” State employees, followed by Microsoft and Amazon and Whole Foods workers, have given the most to support Sawant. You can view a full list of Kshama Solidarity contributions here.

Sawant’s campaign has surged ahead since February, the last time CHS reported on the fundraising. Since then, Sawant, with the city picking up the cost of her legal defense against the recall, has pulled well ahead.

Asked about his modest description of the recall campaign and its resources going up against the Sawant fundraising juggernaut Thursday afternoon, Bridger said he believed the Recall Sawant effort could hold its own, saying that the recall campaign’s backers were like most people in District 3 — “Democrat or liberal.” Bridger also struck a familiar chord for many Sawant critics — the Socialist Alternative leader is out of touch with the actual problems of her district. “I’ve never ever seen her presence on the Hill,” Bridger said.

The recall campaign will be a tougher battleground for Sawant, he said.

“It’s not a national thing.”


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Cdresident
Cdresident
14 days ago

“We” are trying to recall sawant, not “they”.
Way to be neutral chs.

Mimi
Mimi
14 days ago
Reply to  Cdresident

I noticed that too. Well, at least he’s always transparent about his opinions whether it is intentional or not.

wharnal
wharnal
14 days ago
Reply to  Cdresident

If “we” were trying to recall her, they wouldn’t be afraid of the higher-turnout November ballot

Hmmm
Hmmm
13 days ago
Reply to  Cdresident

Yeah, this kind of phrasing doesn’t give me confidence in the impartiality of the reporting.

Moving On
Moving On
13 days ago
Reply to  Cdresident

Right? Ernie Lou and the Nordstrom family are ‘they’ now. Okay.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
13 days ago
Reply to  Cdresident

If jseattle had written ‘we’, that would have been a false statement, as this blog is written from their perspective and I don’t think jseattle has ever made the claim that the blog is written from a neutral point of view. Since the people trying to recall her are not jseattle, ‘they’ is absolutely appropriate in this situation.

I guess jseattle could have written ‘Cdresident, Mimi and Hmmm are trying to recall Sawant’ for the headline. Would that have made you feel better?

Kshama supporter
Kshama supporter
13 days ago
Reply to  Cdresident

No it’s not “We.” “We” won the election. she should finish her term. Stop undermining democracy.

Stevens YIMBY
Stevens YIMBY
13 days ago

In fact, she was *re*-elected

CH Resident
CH Resident
13 days ago

A recall IS a democratic process; it doesn’t undermine democracy and it applies to everyone. Did you support the recall attempt for Mayor Durkan, or was that undemocratic as well? Also, Sawant is a Socialist and doesn’t support democracy, she supports socialism.

En Broadway
En Broadway
4 days ago

Sorry, recalls are fully democratic. “We” presented charges where she dramatically overstepped the bounds of her power and responsibility as a democratically elected official and the state supreme court agreed. We aren’t willing to overlook her actions and the damage she has done.

The democratic process consists of more than the parts you find convenient. There are checks on her power and it’s her own actions that brought about this situation. Her condescension and unwillingness to engage is what got us here, and no amount of condescension is going to allow you to reach a middle ground with us. You have to come to the table as equals and stop continuously dismissing our concerns and treating us like we’re robots.

Stevens YIMBY
Stevens YIMBY
13 days ago
Reply to  Cdresident

No, he’s right. It’s ‘they’, because he sees what’s going on in this city and who’s actually responsible for the state of things. If anyone needs to be recalled, it’s been Durkan for a long time now. She’s been woefully inadequate.

RWK
RWK
12 days ago
Reply to  Cdresident

The headline would have been more objective/neutral if neither “they” or “we” were a part of it.

Russ
Russ
14 days ago

The out of state donors has been covered extensively but here’s another good one. Sawant pushing all this disinformation about how right wing billionaires are funding her recall with dark money.

33% of Sawant’s donations were big money donations >$700 totaling $140,691 to date.

The recall only 14.8% are >$700 totaling $43,524.

Who’s being funded by out of state millionaires? Sawant

Eddddddd
Eddddddd
14 days ago
Reply to  Russ

Crazy that this time around, Sawant is the Amazon-backed candidate! ($4507 from Amazon employees for Sawant, compared to $200 for the recall campaign).

UghWhy
UghWhy
13 days ago
Reply to  Eddddddd

There’s a difference between donations from employees vs. the company itself. Orion was funded directly by companies. Sawant is receiving donations from employees. Literally not even close to the same thing.

RWK
RWK
13 days ago
Reply to  Russ

Exactly! Sawant’s hypocrisy is showing, once again. And the vast majority of pro-recall supporters are moderate and left-leaning Democrats and independents, not “right wing” as charged in her recent posters.

Joey N
Joey N
13 days ago
Reply to  Russ

lol millionaires don’t bother with $700 donations. The recall campaign has been requesting that people donate under the disclosure limit because they don’t want their list of supporters to be public.

Russ
Russ
11 days ago
Reply to  Joey N

The limit for an undisclosed donation in the campaign finance filings is $25. The campaigns still have to collect info and disclose if someone donates multiple times of $25. Sawant’s huge donations of $1000 from out of state are trying to offset the grassroots Seattle donations of $25 – even if names aren’t disclosed for $25 the origin of the donation still is.

Lee
Lee
14 days ago

I usually don’t sign petitions but I will sign this one.

Andy
Andy
14 days ago

Is there a reason you named the folks who donated against Sawant and didn’t name the folks that donated to keep her?

Evan
Evan
11 days ago
Reply to  Andy

That is a bit odd…

ClaireWithTheHair
ClaireWithTheHair
13 days ago

I will be glad to see Sawant go. Regardless of how you feel about her politics, or the illegal behavior she’s being recalled over, the biggest problem with Sawant is her overwhelming toxicity.

Sawant poisons the conversation with her ruthless attacks and mischaracterizations of her opponents. She gives a platform to the most divisive and extreme voices in our political landscape. And she uses aggressive tactics to ensure that hers is always the loudest, most divisive voice in the room. Her supporters are equally aggressive and work hard to ensure that the voices of regular Seattleites are drowned out during council hearings.

The only way we can move forward is to put down the divisive, aggressive, hateful rhetoric and toxic political tactics and work together. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders understand this which is why they have been able to get so much done already. Kshama does not understand this and her non-stop poisoning of the political environment is seriously holding this city back and preventing us from moving forward on the most critical issues we face.

No thank you
No thank you
13 days ago

Your ranting proves what is fundamentally wrong with this recall. People will affirm the recall based on your differences in political ideology vs. the actual grounds the court has determined the recall can proceed on. Being “aggressive, loud, divisive” are not grounds to recall an elected Council member and is not how the recall should be interpreted or how democracy works. I am a D3 resident and will NOT be signing this.

ClaireWithTheHair
ClaireWithTheHair
13 days ago
Reply to  No thank you

This is exactly the kind of mischaracterization and toxicity people are tired of!

I’m not ranting, and I never said she should be recalled on the grounds of being “aggressive, loud and divisive.”

She is being recalled because she did a bunch of illegal stuff after she was elected. It’s just like an impeachment!

But it will be a good thing because her aggression and divisiveness will disappear. Just like impeaching Trump would have been good because his toxicity would have disappeared.

Evan
Evan
11 days ago

Well said – we need a change.

Stevens YIMBY
Stevens YIMBY
13 days ago

BIG ASS WASTE OF TIME AND RESOURCES. What bold and glorious ideas do the recallers have for the district? I live here, I voted for her because she’s bold.
You nitwits need to look for the actual problems in the district and do something about them. SAWANT IS NOT THE PROBLEM. The East Precinct is still a fucking hazardous fortress and we’re complaining about Sawant? Pull your heads out of your privileged asses.

JCW
JCW
13 days ago
Reply to  Stevens YIMBY

Sawant and her ‘revolutionary’ supporters are the reason East Precinct is still a fucking fortress. She has directly encouraged the behavior that led to the fortification, has forwarded an ‘us vs them’ culture within city institutions for her own benefit, and has turned a blind eye as Capitol Hill businesses bleed out as a result. You want an ‘actual problem’s? It’s her.

Chris
Chris
13 days ago
Reply to  Stevens YIMBY

The East Precinct is in her district. What is she doing about it? I’ve seen zero public mentions of her plan on this. That’s why we’re complaining – she has zero interest in local politics, so why is she a local politician?

CH Resident
CH Resident
13 days ago
Reply to  Stevens YIMBY

If all you can do is name call, insult and make assumptions instead of having a conversation then honestly I have to believe you don’t know anything about what your supporting.

slider292
slider292
13 days ago

Interesting how many donors to the pro-Sawant camp report as “Unemployed” and give the max donation.

Glenn
Glenn
13 days ago
Reply to  slider292

Interesting how many Sawant supporters dont even live in Washington, Seattle, or D3. And they give big, as the story here describes. And since her legal fees are covered she can devote those immense donations to other items.

15th Resident
15th Resident
13 days ago

I’m not contributing to this but if this happens I won’t be sorry to see her go. Sawant seems to spend way more time chasing national exposure than making sure that the people in her district are taken care of. A stroll down 15th shows the boarded up businesses and homeless camps that mark her tenure on the council.

Kshama supporter
Kshama supporter
13 days ago
Reply to  15th Resident

Pretty naive to think that something happening all over the city and country like what’s on 15th is her fault. Stop making stuff up. Kshama is good for D3.0

CoCo
CoCo
13 days ago

Wrong

CoCo
CoCo
13 days ago
Reply to  15th Resident

So true about 15th. Compare to 19th! Ouch.

Stevens YIMBY
Stevens YIMBY
13 days ago
Reply to  15th Resident

Businesses have closed and there’s a proliferation of encampments because of COVID.
And what has actually closed down? The cleaners next to Victrola? Wandering Goose? The secondhand clothing store was struggling for a while. QFC is closing because they can’t handle paying their workers hazard pay. I don’t see how any of it is her fault.

JCW
JCW
13 days ago
Reply to  Stevens YIMBY

The point of having a district-based council is so that the interests of residents and business owners are represented within city government. Whether she’s representing the interests of ALL D3 residents or just a particularly noisy segment is up for debate. As for representing the myriad of BUSINESSES on the hill that are struggling, she most certainly is not. Yes, CH businesses have closed due to COVID (even the ones you disparagingly list above). But have you heard her say a damn word about that, or done anything at all to perhaps stop the bleeding? Has she made any attempt to reach out to these businesses and ask what support they need and how she can best represent them on the CC? Have you seen her out on the streets when it wasn’t a rally or protest? Has she said anything at all to stop some of her supporters from smashing windows in her district and perhaps counter the idea that the Hill is the post-apocalyptic wasteland many outsiders think it is?

Here’s the deal. Many small businesses on the Hill are JUST hanging on. They’ve drained every last resource they had at their disposal. If the climate doesn’t change, they will leave the Hill by choice or by circumstance. And what takes their place will be the types of companies Sawant has made her name railing against. Great for her profile, awful for everyone who lives here, including her supporters.

So while she may not have singlehandedly “created” the problem, her failure to represent and advocate for a large portion of her constituency is absolutely contributing to it.

RWK
RWK
12 days ago
Reply to  JCW

Exactly. If I happened upon Sawant strolling our neighborhood and checking in on small businesses to see how she could help, I would probably die of shock. But I don’t have to worry, because that is not going to happen!

CoCo
CoCo
13 days ago
Reply to  Stevens YIMBY

Wrong again Sawant supporters. Check out Bellevue! Looks great over there. Need a new City Council and this one is first.

15th Resident
15th Resident
13 days ago
Reply to  Stevens YIMBY

QFC is closing because the City Council demanded that they pay hazard pay (good) and then looked the other way when QFC used that as an excuse to close the store and fire the workers (bad). That is a net negative for the neighborhood, and Sawant has been silent.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
13 days ago

I’ve stocked up on gourmet popcorn to watch the Sa-wants vs the Sa-donotwants Recall Blog Battle of the Decade™.

Based on past Sawant elections, my money is on Sawant once again: the half dozen or so very vocal Sa-donotwants on the blog stating that they represent the majority opinion of the District while already taking their victory lap means Sawant should have no trouble surviving this one.

Maybe next election cycle?

Stevens YIMBY
Stevens YIMBY
13 days ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

I’d love to know the Sa-donotwants’ opinion of rent control and taxing amazon.

Glenn
Glenn
13 days ago
Reply to  Stevens YIMBY

Ok. Recall supporter here. I am against rent control, especially the version Sawant floated last year. It was incredibly punitive to landlords and would strongly discourage new development. BTW, rents have been declining citywide on average about eight percent this year. And that does not include rent incentives offered by many landlords. Rent control? Why? If we must pursue rent control it should be modeled on Oregon’s version, which allows for reasonable rent increases and does not discourage new development.

Taxing Amazon. I think that policy would be better pursued on a state level to avoid casting Seattle as business unfriendly and encouraging growing companies to leave for Bellevue or other locales. And in future, better define your intended use for the increased revenue before proposing the tax increase.

Sawant should sharpen her listening skills and treat others, including fellow Councilmembers, business owners, and D3 residents, as if they have something useful to offer rather than as reactionary impediments to her worker’s paradise. I hope my comments provide you sone useful insights.

Gordon
Gordon
13 days ago

What a colossal waste of time, resources, and civic attention.

slider292
slider292
13 days ago
Reply to  Gordon

I’m guessing you haven’t complained about how much time and resources her antics have cost the City of Seattle.

Joey N
Joey N
13 days ago
Reply to  Gordon

The right is only against wasting public time, money and attention when it’s being spent to help people.

HTS3
HTS3
11 days ago
Reply to  Joey N

There is very little of what would qualify as “the right” in this city. We have the middle, left, and leftist. Well, and then Council Member Sawant, a Socialist supported in significant part by people not living in our State.

McCloud
McCloud
13 days ago

“They,” lmao. Way to purity test the residents of D3, Justin!

Cappy
Cappy
13 days ago

Where do I sign?!!

CoCo
CoCo
13 days ago

The hill needs to have someone who cares. Walk around 15th. So sad with all business out of business, homeless, and mentally ill everywhere. So sad!!

Kshama supporter
Kshama supporter
13 days ago
Reply to  CoCo

QFC closed because of hazard pay. Wandering Goose was on its way out. Everything else is the same as pre-Kshama and rest of the city. Stop being dramatic.

15th Resident
15th Resident
13 days ago

Where was Sawant in defending the QFC workers and her neighborhood when QFC called City Council’s bluff? Off chasing the white whale of amazon and sweet national attention that would bring. I am done with Sawant’s selfish agenda.

Kshama supporter
Kshama supporter
12 days ago
Reply to  15th Resident

1. She was speaking out about QFC, you must have missed it.
2. She doesn’t exist to care about every single constituent’s pet issue. No politician does so she doesn’t owe you to be vocal in the exact way you want. Representative democracy doesn’t ever work like that. I am so tired of this poor constructed take.

jonathanz
jonathanz
13 days ago

A tremendous waste of time and resources.

slider292
slider292
13 days ago
Reply to  jonathanz

Were you upset about the hundreds of thousands of dollars Kshama’s bullsh*t has cost the city? For no other reasons than her ego and incompetence?

Kshama supporter
Kshama supporter
12 days ago
Reply to  slider292

Got proof of this of just spewing nonsense?

NKB
NKB
13 days ago

Seems like all of this time and money would be better spent just supporting a candidate these people like better to run against her in 2023.

She’s won three elections to the council, and twice in this district. Unless the recall effort benefits from being a low turnout (and therefore not very legitimate) special election, what makes them think the result will be any different this time around?

RWK
RWK
12 days ago
Reply to  NKB

The ONLY reason Sawant won the last election is that Amazon made a colossal political blunder by their large donation to Orion at the last moment, and this caused alot of voters who were on the fence to vote for Sawant.

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
12 days ago
Reply to  NKB

Why should I think it’s may be different? Because her election wins have been coming by diminishing margins and she’s managed to alienate many of those who were only grudging supporters in the last race. If she’s able to survive the recall, I get the feeling it will not because of the overwhelming continued support of those who voted for her the last time, but the reluctance of some to use a recall. I have seen plenty of people who at very least profess to not having been Sawant voters who say they will not vote yes on the recall, as they are unconvinced that what she did rises to that level.

Personally I think that she behaved unethically enough to merit it and the state Supreme Court, while not making a judgement about whether the charges are true, believes that the acts are enough to allow the recall to go forward, so if you decide she did do what she is being recalled for, you may vote yes in good conscience.

fro
fro
12 days ago

This is a blog appearing as legitimate news, the bias is usually apparent, many of the recovery skills I have learned over the last 40 years are turned upside down in Seattle, and who are They was a great group i will always remember. the best way to keep housing is to pay your rent.

A.J.
A.J.
12 days ago

We all know what is going to happen. The corporations, developers, and other wealthy people are going to spend a million dollars pumping out mediocre, deceptive, and dishonest advertising, and then Sawant will win again because despite what a very vocal minority of voters keep screaming, a large portion of the population likes Sawant more than the do-nothing business (ie money) oriented politicians that controlled the council for decades and got us into the mess we are in now with a housing crisis and unaccountable police department.

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
12 days ago
Reply to  A.J.

If such a large proportion of the population like Sawant, why then did she win by only a very small margin (4 points), which constituted only about 1,700 votes… Clearly it’s not a “large portion” of the population that likes her, it’s about the bare minimum that one needs to win an election in this district – including those who cast votes not particularly for her, but rather against her competition. Her behavior and inaction on important local issues over the last year has likely alienated quite a few of those who never counted themselves among her most loyal and ardent supporters.

Kshama supporter
Kshama supporter
12 days ago
Reply to  CD Neighbor

That margin is not dissimilar from other council victories and considering Orion had massive amount of campaign money from Amazon and Eisenberg and others, her victory is more impressive as she was up against the very slandering you see on this blog and money influence.

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
12 days ago

Sorry but nope – I’ve just seen this information the margins of the majority of the other council races were quite a bit higher – 21pts, 21pts, 12pts, 12pts, 6pts and one that was the same at 4pts. So, no, it is not correct that the other race were similar in margin. Not to mention that her margin in the previous election was 12 pst.. so it would seem that her popularity is falling rather than gaining.

And Egan Orion didn’t take any campaign money from Amazon – that would be illegal…. they put money into political action groups, which he had no say over and in the end it hurt him far more than helped him, so no I don’t see her victory impressive at all – had they kept their noses out of it, she actually may not have won at all.

Cap hill voter
Cap hill voter
11 days ago

What has sawant done for the safety of our district? What has she done for small business on cap hill?
Nothing. No representation at all.
She does a terrible job representing most in her district. She is a puppet to her national party that only sounds off in issues that her national party will let her sound off on.
It’s real easy, follow her money! It’s not from our neighborhood, not even from Seattle!

Anti-itnA
Anti-itnA
8 days ago

If you want to see exactly who is contributing and how much, take a look at http://web6.seattle.gov/ethics/elections/campaigns.aspx?cycle=2021&type=campaign&IDNum=740&leftmenu=collapsed

Anti-itnA
Anti-itnA
8 days ago

If you look at the contributions data on the City of Seattle website, it currently shows 3,984 separate individuals contributed to the Kshama Solidarity organization, and 4,380 to the Recall Sawant organization. You would have to go into the lists to dig out all the people from out of state and out of the city who contributed to each group, Kshama Solidarity would lose the most.
There are people from California, Road Island, Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida who contributed $1,000 or more because they feel the need to tell the people of Seattle who should be in Seattle City government.
While there quite a few folks from outside of Seattle who contributed to the Recall Sawant organization, I had to scroll down through over 100 names before I found someone from out of State. That person from Arizona contributed $200.
It may or may not be valid to consider the number of individual contributors as an indication of how the vote will go, but, like all her other campaigns, the amount Ms. Sawant gets from out of state tells you who she really works for.