Let’s check in on organizational endorsements for the key positions in the Seattle and King County August 2021 Primaries.
I’m focusing on organizational endorsements because it can be useful to zoom out to see which candidates have earned the nod from some of the city’s larger media, political, labor and civic groups, which often have very specific policy goals. If you know something about the organization and what its objectives are, that can tell you where the candidates stand on those issues. Conversely, if you know something about the candidate’s stances, this can tell you something about the organization.
Lots of individual endorsements; follow the links
Many candidates enjoy large and growing lists of individual endorsements. But again, I’m deliberately limiting the scope of this post here to organizational endorsement.
I encourage you to follow the links to the candidates’ own websites for more complete lists, because in no case are the lists above complete.
On the mayoral side, City Council President M. Lorena González has racked up a considerable amount of traditional labor union support (e.g., MLK Labor, SEIU locals and many more), in addition to The Stranger.
Bruce Harrell gets the nod from more centrist, commerce-friendly and/or public-safety focused organizations. And sure enough, he enjoys recommendation from The Seattle Times.
In general, the more left-leaning the organization, particularly in the areas of eliminating single-family zoning, decriminalization, making transit free, and more, the more likely they are to endorse:
- Joe Nguyen for King County Executive over viable candidate Dow Constantine,
- Nikkita Oliver over viable candidates Sara Nelson and Brianna Thomas, and
- Nicole Thomas-Kennedy over either incumbent Pete Holmes or viable challenger Ann Davison for City Attorney.
Those organizations focused primarily on an urbanist agenda find Andrew Grant Houston and Colleen Echohawk appealing at the mayoral level.
The more centrist/moderate, public safety and/or business-focused they are, the more likely they are to endorse:
- Bruce Harrell for Mayor,
- Sara Nelson for District 9,
- Ann Davison for City Attorney and
- Dow Constantine for King County Council executive.
Note that each of these candidates — and also ones not listed — also have growing lists of individual endorsers as well. They’re often community, governmental, labor and business leaders. I’ve made no attempt to catalogue them all, but they might be meaningful to you and your vote. So please visit the candidates’ individual websites, and/or the endorsement organizations’ websites for much more complete lists and full commentary.
Blanks in the table above indicate no-specific endorsement as yet as of this writing, July 25th 2021 — for that particular position. Sometimes, it represents the fact that an organization has declined to endorse any candidate for that position. For details, check their website, linked for you in the right hand column.
This is not a complete list, and these organizations aren’t listed in any particular order.
There’s no easy way to keep this always up-to-date, but follow me on Twitter and jot me a note if I’ve missed key ones, and I’ll do my best to update it on a periodic basis.
Interpreting Endorsements: My Two Cents
Seattle voters are busy people. We generally don’t closely follow the nuances of each political organization. Thus, I think we tend to over-rely upon endorsements more than we should.
Even the brand name of the group tends to be more important than what they may currently stand for, and voters don’t always have a full appreciation of what policy slate each organization currently stands for. We are also generally unaware of political drift — several “X Legislative District Democrat” groups, for instance, have moved quite far left in the past couple of decades, at least to this moderate independent voter.
Decades ago, as a novice voter, I tended to think “more endorsements are better.” In one sense, perhaps that’s true. But that only makes sense if you believe that all organizations have the same view of city policy tradeoffs as you. And that’s very unlikely to be the case. The leaders we are electing have views on policy tradeoffs. They might not express them very clearly during the election (to try to capture as many voters as possible), but they do have views on policy tradeoffs. The stances they take involve very real livability issues, including public safety, homelessness, affordable housing, ecology, single-family zoning, transit, tax policy, policy toward addiction, policies toward repeat offenders, and much more.
While endorsements by organizations that are fully aligned with your worldview can be very useful indicators, beware of just the brand-name of an organization itself. Several have drifted from their brand name, and some can elect endorsement committees which are soon captured by an extreme viewpoint. (Stipulated: extremism is a highly subjective term!)
Some Organizations Might Serve as Useful Negative Indicators
If you think The Seattle Times is far too corporatist and elite, or you think the Downtown Seattle Association is just a mouthpiece for Amazon, you might shy away from their picks. And the converse is also true.
And voters would do well to look back at their past recommendations, and see how well they’ve fared for Seattleites.
For instance, I wrote last week why I think The Stranger’s political endorsements have been a disaster for Seattleites; 8 of 9 current city council members and long-time City Attorney Pete Holmes have received glowing endorsements from The Stranger. So in one sense, if you love the job the City Council is doing, and love the current City Attorney’s approach to his office, The Stranger is your perfect voting guide. If on the other hand, you view Seattle City Council less favorably, you might want to reconsider whom they’re recommending for you this year, and perhaps even consider it a negative indicator of who you should vote for.
Think it’s just The Stranger? Not so fast. The much-shared-in-my-social-circle “Progressive Voters Guide” also recommended a majority of our current City Council to voters, as well as City Attorney Pete Holmes, for several terms. So maybe they’re not the best talent-spotter, either.
Omissions are unintentional. Please follow me on Twitter and jot me a note if there are key organizations (not individuals, organizations) that I’ve missed. Tracking individual endorsements is way too fast-moving and time-consuming. Thanks.
Get Those Ballots In!
Last, a plug. Please be sure to get those ballots in. Don’t let them sit unused on the kitchen table, unless you truly have no idea for whom to vote. The August primary is when we choose the top two finalists for major seats to run off against each other in the November vote. Some primaries have just 30% voter participation; and in skipping the vote, you let the most motivated activists have a much greater share-of-voice over policies which may very well matter to you. Take a moment, read through the voters guide, visit the campaign websites of your favorites, and resolve to be an even more informed voter this year. Don’t just complain online about the choices others make — continue to get as informed as you can, and vote.
Steve’s a Seattle-based entrepreneur and software leader, husband and father of three. He’s American-Canadian, and east-coast born and raised. Steve has made the Pacific Northwest his home since 1991, when he moved here to work for Microsoft. He’s started and sold multiple Internet companies. Politically independent, he writes on occasion about city politics and national issues, and created voter-candidate matchmaker Alignvote in the 2019 election cycle. He holds a BS in Applied Math (Computer Science) and Business from Carnegie Mellon University, a Masters in Computer Science from Stanford University in Symbolic and Heuristic Computation, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he graduated a George F. Baker Scholar. Steve volunteers when time allows with Habitat for Humanity, University District Food Bank, Technology Access Foundation (TAF) and other organizations in Seattle.