2017 will bring nearly 3000 positions up for election in Washington State with the Seattle mayor’s race being one of the bigger tickets. Incumbent Ed Murray won a close election against Michael McGinn in 2013, but will not be running for reelection due to recent accusations of sexual misconduct with minors.
Facing child sex abuse allegations, Mayor Murray will not seek reelection https://t.co/x0eByLh5Nb
— Heidi Groover (@heidigroover) May 9, 2017
Ed Murray made it official in an affluent neighborhood in West Seattle. Before these allegations broke, Mr. Murray was seen to have a good shot to do well in his reelection campaign, masking whatever deficiencies he had in his first term by resisting President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.
Bob Hasegawa Elbows his way into the Crowded Pack
On the afternoon before Ed Murray made his announcement that he would not be running for reelection, I received a press release stating Bob Hasegawa’s intention to run for Seattle Mayorship. In the press release, he touts his heritage as Japanese American and how such experiences make him the best candidate to lead Seattle against Donald Trump. This sentiment makes it clear that Hasegawa will be taking up Mayor Murray’s strongest position; that strong stance against Trump, and implementing it in his own way. Beyond Trump, Hasegawa will most likely make economic justice/reform a key talking point of his election bid. Hasegawa made his bid official, after changing his announcement event to not interfere with Mayor Murray’s announcement that he was dropping out of the race.
Timing Is Everything
It is strange, that on the eve of Mayor Murray dropping out of the race, an entrenched democrat decides to enter the race – just nine days before the deadline of May 19th. Perhaps it’s just coincidence. Perhaps he was just mulling it over and had aspirations to be Seattle’s mayor all along.
Perhaps Hasegawa saw Mayor Murray dropping out as an opportunity. Mayor Murray would have likely out-fundraised the field if his 2013 bid is any indication (Murray received nearly $800,000 in donations). Every candidate receiving at least 10% of the vote in 2013 cleared $200,000 in donations. The money is of particular importance to Hasegawa’s bid for mayor because his position within the state senate precludes him from receiving donations while the Washington legislature is in session. Another thing to keep an eye on, given Hasegawa’s fundraising predicament, is how Political Action Committees help fund his campaign. Hasegawa will undoubtedly tout that his campaign is a movement of the people and he will point to the fact that he can’t raise any money, but PACs will be there with their purse. Ready to assist in the shadows. Also, keep an eye on the local news media as they can also assist Hasegawa’s TV time since he won’t be able to buy any. Hasegawa’s endorsement list will presumably be in his favor as well.
Perhaps a group came to Hasegawa to present him with an opportunity. Specifically, one entrenched democrat is forced to drop out and we think you are the entrenched democrat to replace him. Apart from what has already been outlined above regarding his campaign finances, becoming mayor would be a substantial pay increase for Hasegawa and perhaps thrust him into the spotlight as well. One could commend such a backroom deal, concluding that the Democratic powers that be finally chose a good candidate. But then you’d have to ask yourself, why? Is it because they are frightened of the possibility of a true people’s candidate, Nikkita Oliver, a political outsider, ascending to the Seattle Mayorship? Albeit, this is just speculation but conceding to such a request to run for mayor would signify an inherent issue in his potential mayorship. Particularly, a Mayor Hasegawa may be different in name but not in kind. It will ultimately be business as usual.
In His Own Words
In a Seattle Times article by Daniel Beekman, Bob Hasegawa is quoted as casting himself as a more seasoned, experienced Nikkita Oliver:
Hasegawa said no candidates “are really speaking to my issues” other than Oliver.
“I have to say I admire her for putting herself out there and stepping up, but I feel like I’ve got a much broader base and the experience to step into the mayor’s position and accomplish some real good for the people,” he said.
In the above quote, Hasegawa concedes to being aligned with Oliver on the issues and is knowingly stepping in front of her. Instead of supporting, mentoring, or endorsing an amazing candidate who was already in the race, Hasegawa chose himself. This marks him as an opportunist, when he could have been an inclusionist.
If the vote gets split between Oliver and Hasegawa and someone unforeseen becomes Seattle mayor, it is my hope that local progressives don’t go blaming the strongest non-democrat.
In light of the timing of Hasegawa’s announcement, my vote is unmoved. I’m staying the course with Nikkita Oliver. Oliver never has to invoke alignment with Bernie Sanders for progressive credibility. She embodies the movement in her history, experience, and outlook.