Egan Orion conceded to Kshama Sawant in their Seattle City Council race Tuesday, acknowledging the evaporation of his election night advantage in a District 3 race that saw more than 58% of voters turn out.
Orion led the incumbent with 54% of the vote in last Tuesday’s initial tally, but Sawant surged ahead Thursday as more ballots were added, passing her challenger and dealing a blow to companies such as Amazon that spent heavily in an attempt to unseat the socialist council member.
A small number of votes were added Tuesday, boosting Sawant’s share to 51.8% and causing Orion to abandon any hope of winning District 3, which covers Capitol Hill, the Central District, Montlake and Madison Park.
“Today, after the last batch of votes came in, it was clear that our big election-night lead had been reversed, leaving us over 1,500 votes behind our opponent,” Orion said in a video statement. “Clearly this was not the result we wanted to see, but it leaves me with no other choice but to concede.”
Tuesday’s count brought no changes to the Seattle races. With all seven of the council’s district seats up for election, Sawant is set to return to the council along with Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Debora Juarez.
They’ll be joined by Tammy Morales, Alex Pedersen, Dan Strauss and Andrew Lewis, who won contests that had no incumbents.
Turnout has surpassed 50% in all but one Seattle district, besting participation in 2017’s mayoral election. Interest in the elections spiked after Amazon contributed $1 million to a business-backed political-action committee supporting Orion and a number of other council candidates.
In his statement Tuesday, Orion linked his loss to Amazon’s involvement.
“Unfortunately, when Amazon dropped over $1 million into the City Council races just as ballots were sent out, our closing arguments were completely subsumed by national media attention,” he said, mentioning comments by Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
“It made the election not about my opponent’s record and policies but about Amazon and their massive unneeded spending,” added Orion, an LGBTQ community and small-business advocate.
Even in conceding, Orion criticized Sawant, warning her re-election would mean “four more years of reckless policies and … more division than ever.” He asked supporters to to “hold the incumbent accountable” at City Hall.
Sawant described the results differently. “It looks like our movement has won and defended our socialist City Council seat for working people against the richest man in the world,” she said Saturday, referring to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.