The endorsements are flying in the crowded race for Seattle mayor, and over the past week State Senator Ed Murray has captured the lion’s share.
Last Wednesday, Murray received an unlikely pair of endorsements: from Washington Conservation Voters, the largest environmental political group in the state and from CASE, the political arm of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
On Thursday, former King County Executive Ron Sims appeared at Murray’s headquarters and announced his endorsement of Murray.
On Friday, City Attorney Pete Holmes, City Councilmember Tim Burgess and immigration activist Pramila Jayapal did the same. Burgess had been pursuing his own run for mayor before he dropped out in May. Holmes has been embroiled in a public feud with incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn over police reform.
Of the recent endorsements, the Washington Conservation Voters’ decision to embrace Murray was perhaps most surprising. Incumbent McGinn is a former environmental activist and a vocal critic of expanded highways, plastic bags, and coal trains, among other things. He’s been endorsed by the Sierra Club, the Cascade Bicycle Club and a number of prominent national environmentalists, including Van Jones.
Brendon Cechovic, the executive director of Washington Conservation Voters, admitted that it was tough to chose from “lots of good candidates in the race.”
But Murray has been a key ally in the legislature in the fight for increased fuel efficiency standards for cars, and funding for the clean up of Puget Sound, Cechovic said.
“[Murray] brought us in from the very beginning, and said, how do we work on this together? What are we trying to do? What are the kind of coalitions we have to build to make this kind of thing happen? So, we have a great deal of trust in Ed Murray and we are very confident that he will do a great job as our next mayor,” said Cechovic.
Former King County Executive Ron Sims also cited Murray’s leadership style as key to winning his endorsement.
Sims says he knows Mayor McGinn and voted for him back in 2009. But he says he’s been disappointed that McGinn’s first term has been so contentious.
“Debate and fighting is not what you do as an executive. Coalition building is most important and listening and using existing resources and motivating people to achieve,” said Sims.
In an interview with KUOW, McGinn scoffed at the notion that he has been a divisive figure. He says his track record proves he has been able to build coalitions on environmental issues, including expanding light rail and rallying opposition to coal trains.
He also suggested that the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce's endorsement of Murray tarnishes his progressive credentials. "So it's pretty clear which side of the spectrum he's on in this race," McGinn said.
McGinn noted he has the support of "liberal" groups like the Sierra Club and Unite Here Local 8, a union which represents hotel and restaurant workers. In fact, both men describe themselves as progressive Democrats.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what effect these endorsements will have on the race. According to Brendon Cechovic, the endorsement from Washington Conservation Voters will likely being volunteers and money to Ed Murray’s campaign.
During last year’s governor’s race, the group deployed about 1,000 volunteers and $750,000 in support of Inslee’s campaign.
The group will not spend so heavily on a local race but is committed to getting Senator Murray elected, Cechovic said.
But he acknowledges he has his work cut out for him. “The race is wide open,” said Cechovic. “Hold on to your hats on primary day. Anyone can win.”