Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant declared an “apparent victory” on Friday over an effort to recall her, but expanded her lead only slightly to 249 votes in the fourth day of ballot counting.

Even as hundreds of challenged ballots remained to potentially be counted in the coming days, she told supporters Friday morning that she expected to beat the effort to remove her from office.

“It appears we have defeated the combined efforts of big business, the right wing, corporate media, the courts and the political establishment who sought to remove our socialist council office by any means necessary,” Sawant said to a crowd of supporters.

Though she trailed by about 6 percentage points when the initial count was posted late Tuesday, about 60% of the votes counted in subsequent days have been “no” votes in favor of retaining Sawant. Now, she narrowly leads with 50.3%, a margin of just 249 votes.

Timeline: Kshama Sawant’s tenure on Seattle’s City Council

With the bulk of ballots counted, King County Elections reported just 87 new counted ballots on Friday, of which 52 were against the recall and 35 were in favor, showing that both sides still have ground to gain among uncounted ballots.


Still, Henry Bridger II, leader of the Recall Sawant campaign, hinted at a concession in an emailed statement after the new votes were posted Friday.

“While the ultimate outcome will likely fall short of removing Sawant from office, the results of this election ought to ring out like an alarm to Councilmember Sawant and those dealing in her style of divisive politics,” Bridger wrote.

While the more than 550 outstanding ballots with signature challenges that, if resolved and counted by Dec. 16, could swing the results in either direction, Sawant says the Kshama Solidarity Campaign has secured her seat.

“We won because we did not back down,” Sawant said.

“We did not back down one inch in our socialist election campaign to defeat the racist, right wing, big-business-backed recall.”

Bridger, who stopped shy of conceding defeat on Friday, said the recall campaign will “continue working to cure every contested ballot and ensure everyone who voted in this election has their voice heard.”

Even with posters printed for a Sunday victory party, the solidarity campaign has not discounted the importance of the challenged ballots or ruled out the possibility of a recount.


“There’s no automatic recount in a recall-style election. Either campaign can choose to pay for one and if the recall [campaign] would like to pay for that, we believe in our working-class voters that we will still come out victorious,” Kshama Solidarity campaign manager Emily McArthur said.

“And that’s also why we are not resting on our laurels. We are actively trying to cure all the outstanding ballots, which are disproportionately low income and young voters,” McArthur added, noting that beginning Friday, the campaign would organize efforts to contact voters with challenged ballots.

“This is a highly polarized election that people want to have their vote count in, so we have a lot of confidence that working-class people will be highly motivated to make sure that their vote counts.”

Sawant has been a council member since 2013, most recently reelected in 2019 to represent District 3, which includes Capitol Hill, the Central District, First Hill, Madison Park, Chinatown International District, Madrona and Mount Baker. Only voters in her district are deciding whether she should be recalled.

In the first-ever recall of a Seattle City Council member to make it to a ballot, Sawant faced three charges.

One is that she used city resources to support a proposed “Tax Amazon” ballot initiative and didn’t comply with public disclosure requirements related to those expenses. In May, she settled with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission for $3,516, twice the amount she had spent.

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Sawant is also accused of defying COVID-19 safety orders by letting hundreds of protesters into City Hall after hours in June 2020. Sawant confirms that she opened City Hall but says she did not violate any laws.

Finally, Sawant is accused of leading a march to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s house, though Durkan’s address is protected by a state confidentiality program because of her past work as a federal prosecutor. Sawant admits to and was recorded participating in the march but has said she was not involved in organizing it.