Ann Davison, a Republican who has promised to restore law and order to the streets of Seattle by increasing prosecution of misdemeanor crimes and clearing out homeless camps, has defeated progressive candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy to become the city’s first woman city attorney.
The Seattle Times is calling the race for Davison following Friday’s updated vote count.
Updated tallies released by King County Elections show Davison leading with 53% of the vote to Thomas-Kennedy’s 47%, with 238,299 votes counted. According to an analysis by The Seattle Times, Thomas-Kennedy would need 87% of the estimated 17,000 outstanding votes — nearly 15,000 total — to catch up.
Davison, 53, an arbitrator with limited courtroom experience, declared herself a Republican last year while President Donald Trump was still in office, and has promised to support law enforcement and renew the office’s push to prosecute minor crimes that the administration of outgoing City Attorney Pete Holmes had backed away from. This is her third consecutive run for office.
The office of city attorney is officially nonpartisan. No woman has ever held the job, going back to 1875.
Davison did not declare victory in a statement issued Friday evening.
“As we watch the rest of the ballots come in and reflect on the issues of safety and reform, I take these matters to heart,” she said in a written statement. “I will be spending some time focusing on family and their health in coming days and say thank you to all those who participated in our campaign in whatever way they did.”
Likewise, Thomas-Kennedy was not prepared to concede.
“She’s not conceding this evening and believes every vote should be counted,” said Thomas-Kennedy’s campaign spokesperson Will Casey.
No race in last Tuesday’s city election was more fraught with the potential for unpredictable consequences than the race for Seattle’s official lawyer, who traditionally has prosecuted minor crimes and provided legal advice and defense for the city and its employees, including police.
They faced off because three-term incumbent Pete Holmes, who in recent years had scaled back his office’s pursuit of misdemeanor crimes, found himself caught in the middle of a war between a progressive and a more conservative candidate and lost in the Aug. 3 primary.
Holmes had no comment on the race Friday. A spokesperson said Holmes would not issue a statement until one of the candidates conceded.
Thomas-Kennedy, 46, a former public defender, wanted to ultimately abolish misdemeanor prosecutions and derided police as “thugs” and worse in a series of social media posts during the protests following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by an officer in Minneapolis. During the unrest that swept Seattle and other cities that summer, Thomas-Kennedy tweeted about her “rabid hatred of the police” and pronounced property destruction during times of protest a “moral imperative.”
While she had attracted the support of traditionally Democratic-leaning institutions such as labor unions, as well the defense bar and civil rights attorneys, she evoked the ire of a trio of former Seattle police chiefs — Carmen Best, Kathleen O’Toole and Gil Kerlikowske — who warned in an essay published in The Seattle Times that her election could result in possible “anarchy” and plummeting officer morale.
Her unpopularity among many mainstream Democrats was underscored by the fact that Davison attracted endorsements from two former Democratic governors, Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke, as well and the support of former Republican Gov. Dan Evans.