In the final two-week run-up to tomorrow's primary, when Mayor Greg Nickels' staffers weren't consumed by the monorail and disaster preparedness...

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The book on underdogs

You really want to know what goes on behind the scenes in those underdog campaigns fueled by idealism, caffeine and desperate attempts to gain publicity?

It’s all there in a new book by Phil Campbell, who managed monorail activist Grant Cogswell’s unsuccessful 2001 campaign for Seattle City Council: the sweat, tears — and blood, if you count the suicide of 35-year-old Marion Zioncheck, a populist congressman from Seattle who jumped to his death from the Arctic Building downtown in 1936.

Campbell’s book tries to stitch together three main threads in a 290-page tale. There’s Cogswell’s edgy run against incumbent Richard McIver; Campbell’s recurrent angst about his gun-toting, piranha-breeding roommate; and the story of Zioncheck, a hard-drinking New Dealer who succumbed to depression.

Colorful characters in contemporary Seattle politics also make appearances, including monorail visionary Dick Falkenbury, bullhorn-wielder James (aka Omari) Garrett, mayoral-candidate/Kurt-Cobain-murder-conspiracy-theorist Richard Lee and Stranger News Editor Josh Feit.

A polar-bear suit and a tiff between Campbell and a heavy-metal DJ provide comic relief in a narrative that captures the car-loathing, monorail-loving zeitgeist of Cogswell’s Capitol Hill base of supporters.

“Zioncheck for President: A True Story of Idealism and Madness in American Politics” is being published by Nation’s Books, a subsidiary of Avalon Publishing. Campbell says the book will hit stores Oct. 6 and he is set to read from it Oct. 21 at The Elliott Bay Book Co.

Power of incumbency

In the final two-week run-up to tomorrow’s primary, when Mayor Greg Nickels’ staffers weren’t consumed by the monorail and disaster preparedness, they sent press releases flying: announcements that Nickels wants to install cameras at traffic lights, increase street paving, plant more trees, give small-business owners a tax break, save West Seattle open space he had planned to sell to developers, and show off water-supply safety measures financed by a 2003 voter-approved tax levy. Most of the new programs would be funded by the mayor’s revised 2006 budget, which will be detailed Sept. 26.

Election 2005 notebook appears Mondays. Today’s was written by Bob Young. Got an idea for the column? Write us at:

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