Endorsements from unions, business groups, politicians, advocacy organizations and news outlets don’t always decide elections, but they can nudge a race this way or that, and make a difference in a crowded primary-election contest.
In Seattle, candidates with labor support often battle candidates with business support, and candidates backed by both tend to win.
This year looks a little different because the city’s largest business group, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, isn’t making endorsements in the races for mayor, City Council and city attorney.
Still, there are insights to be gleaned from the endorsements that have been doled out ahead of the Aug. 3 primary.
In the mayoral race, City Council President M. Lorena González has racked up almost every major union endorsement, including the MLK Labor Council and a union that represents 2,700 of the city’s own employees. Former City Council President Bruce Harrell has secured some labor support.
The Downtown Seattle Association, a business-centric organization with similar politics to the chamber, issued candidate ratings last week, describing Harrell and former Deputy Mayor Casey Sixkiller in “outstanding alignment.”
Meetings held by the city’s Democratic district organizations mostly resulted in no-endorsement deadlocks. The 11th District Democrats did settle on a candidate, choosing González. The King County Democrats haven’t endorsed in the race, while the King County Young Democrats are backing González and Colleen Echohawk.
González also has picked up support from current elected leaders, including U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, state Sen. Rebecca Saldaña and four of González’s City Council colleagues: Lisa Herbold, Tammy Morales, Andrew Lewis and Teresa Mosqueda. Julián Castro, the Obama administration housing secretary and 2020 presidential candidate, and Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, also have endorsed González.
Harrell’s endorsement list includes the Washington Technology Industry Association, U.S. Rep. Marilyn Strickland, state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, former Gov. Gary Locke, former mayors Norm Rice and Wes Uhlman, Black Panther Party legend Elmer Dixon and the Rev. Harriett Walden, a longtime police accountability advocate.
Harrell also has been endorsed by The Seattle Times editorial board (the news operation at The Times is independent from the editorial board), while The Stranger has endorsed González.
Echohawk, who until recently led the Chief Seattle Club, has been endorsed by The Urbanist and a list of individuals that includes Tim Harris, founder of the Seattle street newspaper Real Change; City Councilmember Dan Strauss; former Mayor Mike McGinn; former City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw; and Seattle Indian Health Board President Esther Lucero.
Former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell is relying on individual endorsers, including Strauss, Washington state Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, state Rep. David Hackney, Andrea Caupain of Byrd Barr Place and Dominique Davis, who heads the Community Passageways youth program.
Andrew Grant Houston, an architect, counts the Transit Riders Union, climate justice advocacy organization 350 Seattle Action, the Washington Stonewall Democrats and Real Change advocacy director Tiffani McCoy among his supporters. The Young Democrats at the University of Washington are backing González and Houston.
Sixkiller is endorsed by U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and the Neighborhoods for Smart Streets, which opposed a bike lane on 35th Avenue Northeast.
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility plans to endorse in Seattle races later this week, a spokesperson said. The Sierra Club’s Seattle chapter decided not to endorse in the mayoral primary. The Washington Conservation Voters haven’t endorsed in the race, either. The Progressive Voters Guide put together by Fuse Washington has recommended González.
City Council races
Just about every union and Democratic Party organization has endorsed incumbent Teresa Mosqueda for the City Council’s Position 8 seat, along with a slew of elected leaders, the Sierra Club’s Seattle chapter and the Washington Conservation Voters.
The race for the Position 9 seat vacated by González is more open, however, pitting educator and attorney Nikkita Oliver against González’s chief of staff, Brianna Thomas, and Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson.
Oliver has built up an edge with labor, backed by the MLK Labor Council and unions that represent public schoolteachers, supermarket workers and hotel workers. Thomas is supported by the Teamsters and the union that represents home-health workers, while Nelson is endorsed by the union representing firefighters and the Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council.
Thomas is supported by most Democratic Party organizations, securing the King County Democrats and the 11th, 34th, 36th and 46th District Democrats as endorsers. Oliver is endorsed by the 11th District Democrats, the King County Young Democrats, 350 Seattle Action and the Seattle chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The Downtown Seattle Association’s ratings describe Nelson in “outstanding alignment,” and she’s been endorsed by The Times editorial board. The Stranger has endorsed Oliver, while the Progressive Voters Guide recommends both Oliver and Thomas.
Oliver’s individual supporters include Morales, Mosqueda, current King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay and the writer Ijeoma Oluo. Thomas is endorsed by González, Herbold, Strauss and Lewis. Nelson is backed by former City Councilmembers Jean Godden and Tom Rasmussen, and by restaurateur Ethan Stowell.
City attorney race
Incumbent City Attorney Pete Holmes is supported by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, several City Council members and travel writer Rick Steves, among others.
Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, a former public defender, doesn’t list endorsements on her campaign website. Ann Davison, who ran for Washington lieutenant governor last year as a Republican, is supported by former Gov. Dan Evans, former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley and former Seattle Municipal Court Judge Ed McKenna. The Stranger has endorsed Thomas-Kennedy; The Times editorial board hasn’t endorsed in the race.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said City Attorney candidate Ann Davison’s website listed no endorsements. Her website does list endorsements.