When political winds blow in the Pacific Northwest, it is often with gale force, and nothing may have slammed harder into the Seattle mayor’s race Monday than an announcement from former Mayor Mike McGinn that he will run to unseat Ed Murray, who beat McGinn four years ago but is now mired in a scandal.
The story about Murray’s troubles is spreading far beyond the boundaries of Puget Sound or even the borders of Washington State. Murray is being sued by a man who claims to have been sexually molested by the mayor back in the 1980s. Murray is openly gay.
McGinn, on the other hand, was often ridiculed during his administration for his focus on bicycle access and policies that seemed anti-automobile. He was dubbed “Mayor McSchwinn,” and he was considered at the time to be the most liberal mayor the city ever had. In his announcement Monday, he supported the idea of city income tax on wealthy people.
But then Murray, who left the State Senate to run against McGinn, was even farther to the left. He beat McGinn in 2013 by a margin of 52 percent.
Essentially, this is now a race that pits far left against farther left in a city that has tilted so far to the left politically that it has a socialist on the city council, wants to establish a ‘safe injection site” for heroin addicts and has even proposed a sales tax hike to make itself more hospitable to the homeless.
Murray has vigorously professed his innocence and promised to remain in office as the sordid scandal unfolds. It’s a “he said, he said” civil matter. Two other men have made similar claims that the Seattle Times acknowledged it knew about several years ago, but did not report.
McGinn’s entry into the race overshadows the announcement in March by community activist and attorney Nikkita Oliver that she will also challenge Murray. Since that announcement, however, little has been heard about her campaign.
But no doubt there will be plenty to be heard about McGinn’s announcement. Within an hour of McGinn’s declaration, more than 200 reader comments had been posted in reaction. Many of those comments are negative toward the former mayor.
The policies of both men will be on the line. If Socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant jumps into the race, Seattle will be in the national spotlight for the next several months.