“We want people to get others to sign the petitions,” Henry Bridger, campaign manager and chair of the Recall Sawant campaign, tells CHS.
According to campaign filings with the city, the recall campaign spent $8,511.22 in March on postage for 44,805 pieces of mail as the foundation for a postal campaign to gather enough District 3 signatures across Capitol Hill, the Central District, First Hill, and surrounding neighborhoods to put the Kshama Sawant recall question on the ballot.
The campaign’s strategy during ongoing COVID-19 restrictions? Hit as many D3 addresses as possible and encourage supporters to return the petitions with signatures gathered from family, friends, and neighbors. 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 to put the issue on the ballot.
CHS reported here on the court wrangling that finally cleared the way in April for signature gathering to begin.
The Kshama Solidarity campaign, meanwhile, is also limited by the pandemic, banking on a campaign of undermining trust in the recall backers and calling in the big guns for political support. Its latest announcement is UFCW Local 21, the “largest private sector union in Washington,” endorsing the campaign to support the Socialist Alternative leader.
“It is no accident that two of the three charges against Councilmember Sawant are for unambiguously standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, with the remaining charge connected to her leadership in the Tax Amazon movement,” the campaign writes in a Community Post published on CHS.
CHS reported here on the state Supreme Court decision last month allowing the recall to continue and the details of the charges brought against the longest serving city councilmember. Organizers have outlined multiple acts they say warranted recall including using city resources to promote a Tax Amazon initiative, allowing demonstrators inside City Hall during a protest last June, and marching to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home address kept secret due to her past role as a federal prosecutor. A fourth charge of allowing Socialist Alternative to influence her office’s employment decisions was rejected by the state Supreme Court.
The Kshama Solidarity campaign says the charges are untrue and that the recall is part of a “broader assault on democracy.”
After facing a deficit on Election Night 2019, Sawant clawed back to defeat Broadway Business Improvement Area leader Egan Orion by around 4% — or less than 2,000 votes — and currently sits as the longest serving member of the city council.
Nearly two years later, Sawant is in a fight to keep her seat. Both campaigns have built hefty warchests with the battle already approaching the $1 million mark in contributions — the Kshama Solidarity campaign, fueled by larger sums with much of the campaign’s cash coming in increments of $700 or more, has a slight lead with $499,000 reported.
One strategy for Kshama Solidarity’s spending? Pay the people. Paychecks to campaign workers dominate the line items in the campaign’s most recent expenditure disclosures.
Beyond postage, Recall Sawant is also racking up hefty legal bills as court wrangling continues over technicalities like what date the clock started ticking on collecting signatures. Kshama Solidarity doesn’t have to worry about that spend. In September, her City Council colleagues sided with Sawant in agreeing Seattle should foot her legal bills in the recall battle.
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