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Why is Bob Hasegawa Running for Seattle Mayorship?

Washington State Senate Democrats

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.

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.

Written by Andre Roberge

Father, Husband. Went to school for philosophy (university of WA) and now I work for a train company -- Interests include Labor Law, TILA, Unions, Paid Family Leave, Healthcare, Philosophy of Science, Fantasy Football and Open Government-- Fanboy of The Take Down with Nick Nowlin and The Way with Anoa. Follow Andre on Twitter @SubvertingPower.

Andre Roberge is a Researcher and Writer for Progressive Army.


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  1. This is so uniformed and everything wrong with progressive politics. Please read Bob’s bio, or take some time to research the candidate. Your thought process is seemingly If someone doesn’t think Nikkita is a good candidate they must not be a good progressive progressive and there must be some backroom deal- how about we just think Bob is better prepared to take on this job of running a major US city? Also, look at Bob’s background- he has been fighting for over 30 years the same things Nikkita is talking about. Someone political reality is more important than feelings.

  2. Here’s why I think what we (collectively as Democrats) are doing to Nikkita Oliver in the Mayoral race is wrong.

    My major issue is the self-defeating strategy of offering ultimatums instead of olive branches under the guise of #Unity for the #Resistance. It’s “toe the party line or we will fight you” instead of “we will support you because we agree on the issues”. What this effectively does is proves our critics right instead of showing how their assumptions are wrong.

    Are we the party of inclusion? The party which represents building a broad coalition of allies? Are we are no better than the Republicans we villify? Why do we insist on proving their accusations–that we care more about partisanship and control than we do about the actual issues–to have a ring of truth?
    Actions speak louder than words. It’s time to be allies and not oppressors. #SayHerName #NikkitaOliver4Mayor

  3. This article mirrors many of the concerns I have, and some questions that have come up in conversations already, questions which are still not yet answered to my satisfaction. It is my belief that the Democratic Party needs to do some serious introspection… are moves like these actually sending the right message? Is the goal of the Democratic Party of Washington to implement its platform, to fight for the issues that matter to Washingtonians? Or, is it simply to maintain partisan control and be blocked on every issue outside of big business bailouts?

    How much money is going to be dropped into the Seattle Mayoral race, where Democrats are fighting Democrats and other qualified Progressives who are fighting for the same goals that we state we are fighting for? This does NOT send a message to the public that we are a “big tent” coalition party working for unity, it sends the message that Democrats WILL fight to keep ideologically-aligned Progressives out of office if they don’t “play ball” and join the Democratic Party.

    The concern for some may be the “optics” of “losing” a Mayoral seat from Democrat control, indicating party “weakness”, but I feel that the message it sends signifies an even greater weakness and insecurity that we are unwilling to work with or support our potential allies to the #Resistance. We claim to be fighting for #Unity, yet our actions speak louder than our words when the actions we take are to drown out the message of others, and to actively fight against our ideological allies.

    My fellow Democrats, #Unity has to start with us, that is the PRIVILEGE of the powerful that must be exercised. If we TRULY want unity, we need to act like it, and stop fighting Progress!

  4. I don’t think Nikkita is that candidate. Real politics is hard and requires more than just feeling good about someone- are you going to say the same thing about Lorena Gonzalez when she gets in the race? As much as you say experience doesn’t matter- experience in doing the right thing for 30 years should matter according to your own logic. Bob has been ostracized from his own Senate caucus because he believes in doing the right thing even when it isn’t convenient- Nikita’s message is not as inclusive as you think. I stand by Bob because he’s been doing what Nikita’s trying to do for years. Just because you don’t know about Bob’s experiences doesn’t make them less valid- the same goes for Nikkita, but it’s easier to summarize someone’s experiences who has only been fighting for these things in Seattle for less than 10 years. Just do the reading or your views seem to everyone who is informed to be immature.

    • Lorena Gonzalez will have relevant experience with city issues and city government.

      Lorena Gonzalez will also have the perspective of being a woman, something the leadership of this city hasn’t seen for a long, long time.

      The sentiment or takeaway of this post was not to be against Bob, but rather, his political clout could of been used to lift up a candidate with, as he states, a similar platform rather than stepping in front of.

  5. Bob Hasegawa billed the state nearly $900 per week in “per diem” charges when he wasn’t even in Olympia. Is he going to pay back this blatant theft before ramping up his campaign for mayor of the biggest city in Washington? Or can we expect him to make similar fraudulent expenses while mayor?

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Why is Bob Hasegawa Running for Seattle Mayorship?