Political advertisements are rolling out as the race for Seattle mayor heats up, including a television commercial that features footage from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Bruce Harrell, a former City Council member, and M. Lorena González, a current council member, are matched up in the Nov. 2 election, with ballots scheduled to be mailed this week.
The TV spot, paid for by an independent political-action committee that’s supporting González, seeks to make a connection between Harrell and former President Donald Trump via a donor. Harrell is denouncing the commercial as insulting and misleading, while González is saying voters should know about the information.
“Since the Capitol riot, Trump’s ‘top’ Seattle contributor donated to Bruce Harrell’s campaign for mayor,” the ad says over footage from the U.S. Capitol attack by Trump supporters, citing a Seattle Times column from August.
The column noted that Seattle resident George Petrie, the CEO of Goodman Real Estate, had donated $2,800 to the Trump Make America Great Again PAC monthly since Jan. 6, $550 to Harrell’s campaign and more to an independent, pro-Harrell PAC.
“Bruce Harrell returned $550. But Trump’s contributor and his wife put $100,000 into ‘Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future,'” says the ad paid for by the Essential Workers for Lorena PAC, closing with sounds from the U.S. Capitol attack. “Seattle’s Future?”
Essential Workers for Lorena, which recently reported spending about $380,000 on anti-Harrell TV commercials, is funded by unions that represent retail, hotel and service workers. George Petrie has contributed $61,250 and Alyssa Petrie $38,750 to Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future, which also has a number of other real estate executives as major donors.
Independent PACs can spend on city races but are prohibited from coordinating with the actual candidates; candidates don’t control what donations the PACs accept and what they do with the money.
When asked about the ad, Harrell strenuously criticized its content.
“My life story and record of service is rooted in both overcoming and fighting racial bias and the deeply racist policies that were manifest in the Trump administration,” he said in a statement.
“It is both personally insulting — and an attempt to negate my lifelong commitment to racial justice — for outside organizations to try and link me to a white nationalist insurrection. Instead of misleading voters, the sponsors of this ad should look inward — beyond the fact that I have zero connection to the expenditure they cite, the implications they are making only perpetuate the kind of hate and division they claim to denounce. They should pull it off the air and stop scaring and insulting Seattle voters,” Harrell said.
Locally, Petrie has also given this election cycle to Seattle city attorney candidate Ann Davison; Seattle City Council candidate Sara Nelson (who returned his donation); Port of Seattle Commission candidate Stephanie Bowman; King County executive candidates Dow Constantine and Joe Nguyen; and Metropolitan King County Council candidates Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn. He gave to gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee and Loren Culp last year.
“We want to make sure that voters … know who high-dollar Trump supporters are supporting for mayor,” Anna Minard, a spokesperson for Essential Workers for Lorena, said in a statement. “The mayor’s race is about a vision for Seattle’s future, and essential workers are supporting Lorena Gonzalez because she shares our vision …”
When asked about the TV commercial, González’s campaign manager, Alex Koren, said: “Seattle voters know that who contributes to a candidate determines who they will stand for when they are in office … Lorena González’s campaign is funded by working people.”
Harrell said: “As a person of color and attorney, I would think my opponent would find this type of attack just as insulting and detrimental. She should join me in calling for the ad to be pulled from the air.”
Essential Workers for Lorena isn’t the only campaign starting to spend on ads. Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future recently reported spending about $20,000 on ads in newspapers that serve specific communities, including El Mundo, The Facts, Seattle Gay News and Northwest Asian Weekly.
The newspaper ads tout Harrell’s life story and endorsements. Harrell was raised in the Central District by a Japanese American mother whose family suffered internment during World War II, and a Black father whose family had fled the Jim Crow South.
Meanwhile, Harrell’s campaign is running TV ads. One mentions his life story, then touts his platform: “Help people out of parks and into housing; add more officers and improve community safety through de-escalation and non-armed response; address the climate crisis with 100% clean buildings.”
González’s campaign recently started sending literature through the mail. A mailer calls the candidate a first generation American, civil rights attorney and “champion for all of Seattle.”
Touting various endorsements, it says González, who was raised by migrant farmworkers in Central Washington, will push for affordable housing, mental health and addiction services, worker protections and demilitarizing the police.