Elections
Supporters including Keely Mulen, center, and Tiffani McCoy, right, react as early election results show councilmember Kshama Sawant trailing behind her District 3 opponent Egan Orion on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, during an election night party at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle. 
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Supporters including Keely Mulen, center, and Tiffani McCoy, right, react as early election results show councilmember Kshama Sawant trailing behind her District 3 opponent Egan Orion on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, during an election night party at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

3 takeaways from Election Night in Seattle, starring Kshama Sawant

Amazon may have exacted its revenge on Kshama Sawant.

For years, the Seattle City Council member poked the big bear in town – Amazon.

She was unapologetic about her support for a $15 minimum wage at a time that it seemed radical.

She supported the head tax, which would have forced Amazon to pay Seattle per employee. Other City Council members waffled and changed their vote.

On Tuesday night, it seemed that Amazon might be getting its revenge.

See more: Results from the general election

The retail giant dumped $1.5 million into a super PAC that targeted City Council races, giving the lion’s share to Sawant’s opponent. The super PAC was managed by the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

To be clear, this is just half the results, and Sawant could make a comeback in the next few days.

The Chamber's super PAC got some mixed results in the initial returns: three of their candidates are leading, three are trailing and one is too close to call.

Former Mayor Mike McGinn wrote by email that he believes Sawant will win. “She is down eight (points) tonight,” he said. “She was down nine in 2013 and came back.”

McGinn continued: “I think the story is that Amazon lost badly in multiple races tonight, even if Orion manages to hang on to his lead. Their money backfired.”

Ben Anderstone of Progressive Strategies Northwest struck a similar tone.

“The initial results will definitely be good indicators,” he said, “but it’s worth keeping in mind that in Seattle about two days after the election the ballots that get counted start becoming progressively more liberal.”

Anderstone, speaking before the ballot drop Tuesday night, said personality could be a factor if Lisa Herbold in West Seattle led in her race.

“Lisa Herbold is a very progressive, definitely on the left block of the council,” Anderstone said. “But she’s a little bit more low-key in her approach, a little bit less antagonistic.”

On Tuesday night, Sawant took to the stage saying that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos should be fired.

“One of their dozens of attack mailers said our socialist council member should be fired,” she said. “I think, instead, we as working people should fire Jeff Bezos.”

Tim Eyman remains relevant

Tim Eyman loves a $30 car tab and on Tuesday night, it appeared that a lot of Washington agreed with him.

His initiative was leading with 56 percent of the vote. This is the third time he’s brought car tabs to voters.

There will likely be legal challenges as there have been in the past.

It's King County versus everyone

There's a stark divide when you look at the maps for how two measures fared in Washington state: affirmative action (whether to bring it back to Washington state) and car tabs (making them cheaper).

Here’s the image of how the car tab measure went:

Voting against cheaper car tabs are the residents of King, Whatcom and Jefferson counties — historically very liberal counties. Voting in favor of cheaper car tabs are counties in green.
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Voting against cheaper car tabs are the residents of King, Whatcom and Jefferson counties — historically very liberal counties. Voting in favor of cheaper car tabs are counties in green.
Credit: WA Sec. of State

And here’s another image of how affirmative action played in this state:

A map from the Washington Secretary of State website that shows where voters approved a referendum to bring back affirmative action to the state. Voters in counties that are highlighted green support affirmative action (per early returns); voters in the yellow counties did not.
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A map from the Washington Secretary of State website that shows where voters approved a referendum to bring back affirmative action to the state. Voters in counties that are highlighted green support affirmative action (per early returns); voters in the yellow counties did not.
Credit: WA Sec. of State

Kate Walters contributed to this story.

Correction, 8:15 a.m., 11/6/2019: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Kshama Sawant went to New York to protest Amazon's plans for a second headquarters.