Former Governors Gary Locke and Christine Gregoire endorsed Ann Davison for Seattle city attorney on Tuesday, criticizing her rival, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, for vowing to stop most misdemeanor prosecutions — and for controversial statements attacking police and praising riots.
The endorsements in the nonpartisan race aligned the Democratic ex-governors with a self-identified Republican in Davison, who is trying to win over voters in deep-blue Seattle.
In a joint statement, Gregoire and Locke said Seattle is at “a crossroads” and in need of “pragmatic city leaders who understand the challenges our city is facing and that will get Seattle back on track.” They said Thomas-Kennedy’s calls to abolish jails and police and end many prosecutions “would make the people of Seattle less safe and put our neighborhoods more at risk.”
Their endorsements are at odds with local Democratic Party organizations and major labor unions, which have overwhelmingly backed Thomas-Kennedy in recent months.
Shasti Conrad, chair of the King County Democrats, said in a text message the Locke and Gregoire endorsements made her “flaming mad.” In a tweet, she added, “You can’t call yourself a democrat and support a Republican for this job,” and called the former governors “out of touch and playing old politics.”
However, the backing of Davison by Gregoire and Locke underscores alarm among centrist Democrats over Thomas-Kennedy’s platform — as well her controversial statements trashing police as “serial killers” and “crybabies” and cheering property destruction as “a moral imperative.”
Thomas-Kennedy’s tweets from the past year have been widely circulated by critics.
Gregoire, in a follow-up statement, said she had read the tweets “and they are certainly a cause for concern.” She said Davison would bring a “careful, common sense approach” while “her opponent has a track record of very divisive rhetoric that is inappropriate from someone seeking public office.”
For example, in July 2020, after Seattle police reported someone had detonated an explosive device, putting a hole in a wall at the city’s East Precinct, Thomas-Kennedy tweeted: “This person is a hero.”
In December, in response to a holiday message to officers from Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, Thomas-Kennedy tweeted “Eat some covid laced [expletive] and quit ur jobs.” The tweet was later deleted.
Thomas-Kennedy has stood by her platform of abolishing the police — while suggesting some changes wouldn’t necessarily be immediate — and has scolded some critics for seeming more concerned with property crime than deaths of Black people at the hands of police.
In an interview Tuesday, she called the tweets controversy “a distraction” and said some of them had been taken out of context. She noted some of them were sent as police were repeatedly tear gassing protesters in city neighborhoods, including her own.
“I had to buy a gas mask for my 9-year-old,” she said, adding that she believes police have not faced accountability for their violence against demonstrators.
Thomas-Kennedy added she was not thinking of running for office when she sent the tweets. “I am not a political insider and I did not choose my words very carefully,” she said.
A former public defender, Thomas-Kennedy has said she’d halt most misdemeanor prosecutions of thefts and other offenses she said are borne out of poverty and addiction. She supports defunding the police and pouring money instead into victim’s services and noncoercive treatment options. She added a detailed platform to her campaign website on Tuesday, further explaining her positions.
Davison, an attorney who has worked as an arbitrator in recent years, joined the Republican Party and ran for lieutenant governor in 2020, saying progressive Democrats had grown intolerant of dissenting views. She had made the switch after losing a race for Seattle City Council the year before, receiving no support from Democratic organizations.
She has criticized what she views as city inaction on public disorder, including chronic offenders and homeless encampments. On her campaign website, she has called for “returning the sense of safety to the public” and fixing dysfunction in the City Attorney’s office — but provides few specific policy details.
Thomas-Kennedy and Davison advanced to the Nov. 2 general election after both edged out three-term incumbent City Attorney Pete Holmes in the August primary.