Socialist Alternative, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s party, endorsed Nikkita Oliver for mayor Wednesday.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s Socialist Alternative Party is endorsing Nikkita Oliver for mayor, Sawant said Wednesday.
The announcement is no surprise: Sawant spoke at Oliver’s campaign kickoff last month. And Socialist Alternative is a small party, membership-wise.
But the official endorsement is a reminder that Oliver may receive support from many of the voters who propelled Sawant to an upset election, allowed her to win re-election and helped build her a national profile based on her activist politics.
Sawant unseated Democratic incumbent Richard Conlin for a citywide position in 2013 and then, when the council moved to geographic representation for seven of its nine seats in 2015, she beat a Democratic challenger in District 3, which includes Capitol Hill and the Central Area.
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Oliver, 31, is seeking office under the banner of the Peoples Party of Seattle, a new “community-centered grass roots political party,” according to her campaign.
Seattle races are technically nonpartisan.
The race for mayor has become a free-for-all since Mayor Ed Murray was accused last month of sexually abusing teenagers decades ago. Murray has denied the claims but last week ended his re-election campaign.
Oliver was running before the allegations surfaced, but former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, state lawmakers Bob Hasegawa and Jessyn Farrell and former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan are among the candidates who have joined the contest in recent weeks.
More than a dozen campaigns are registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. This is the week during which candidates must officially file with King County Elections, and six already have done so, with many more expected.
On Monday, state public-lands Commissioner Hilary Franz and state representatives Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, and Cindy Ryu, D-Seattle, endorsed Farrell.
Socialist Alternative on Wednesday also endorsed Jon Grant, a candidate for Position 8, one of the council’s two citywide seats. Grant is running as a Democratic Socialist.
In a fiery statement, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council’s executive secretary-treasurer, Nicole Grant — no relation to Jon Grant — responded by blasting Socialist Alternative’s choice. The labor council, an umbrella group for unions that represent more than 100,000 workers, is supporting Democrat Teresa Mosqueda in the Position 8 race.
“Teresa is a working class, power-femme positioned to win the race, but Socialist Alternative would rather turn their back on the very unions and workers who have helped Sawant get elected twice because suddenly Jon Grant says he’s a socialist. Tragedy,” Nicole Grant said in her statement.
She added, “Socialist Alternative can say Democrats are evil all day long but tell that to an immigrant union worker who is caught in Donald Trump’s travel ban. We don’t have time for posers like Jon Grant, we are fighting real evil.”
Jon Grant replied later Wednesday with a statement of his own.
“My entire life’s work has been as an organizer fighting for the interests of the working class and low income families,” he said.
“I’ve previously been a union member of OPEIU 8, and spent last year working on I-1433 to raise wages statewide. Workers should know my commitment to their rights is unequivocal.”
Both he and Mosqueda already have raised more than $100,000, and both have done so with help from the city’s new democracy-vouchers program.
The Position 8 race, like the race for mayor, is crowded, with more than a dozen candidates.
Sawant, Oliver and Grant say they’ve agreed on housing policies that they intend to make “a centerpiece” of Seattle’s 2017 election season. They say the city should build tens of thousands of public-housing units paid for by taxing big business and should require 25 percent of all new housing to be affordable.