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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Sawant’s ricochet problem

As the civil war among Congressional Democrats heats up and comes to define Democratic politics, the case will be made that AOC & Co. could help define the Democrats negatively. In turn, this national debate may have repercussions in Seattle.

One local aspect is the role of Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-7), a co-leader of the Progressive Caucus that has been critical of Speaker Pelosi on the compromise border bill. So far, Jayapal has been able to stay on the good side of Pelosi, pledging support on key bills in exchange for committee posts, but I can’t imagine she enjoys being upstaged by the more famous progressives.

Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant

Another local angle could be when voters lump City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, an activist socialist, together with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also a socialist. To be fair, they are quite different, with Sawant part of the bullhorn-and-manifesto school and AOC a new kind of Twitter-based, more fluid socialist. In addition, the novelty factor of Sawant may be wearing off, and she has lost key union support by her defiance of union-favored candidate Teresa Mosqueda. Others worry that Sawant’s extremism is going to be costly for other left-leaning councilmembers. Welcome to the ricochet factor.

One surprise was to see the Seattle Times endorse Ann Davison Sattler over the moderate, district-serving Debora Juarez for the north Seattle District 5, mostly because Juarez has gone along with the lefty council majority on some key votes. Juarez, who loves to speak her mind, may have blown it with her candor in the editorial board interview about serving only one more term. Another repercussion was to see strong business and moderate support for Phil Tavel, an opponent to Lisa Herbold in West Seattle, who was thought to be secure for her re-election to the city council.

The revolt against the Seattle City Council is in full swing. Polling indicates that voters who elected a series of unknowns to the council now have serious reservations about their liberal tilt, failure to accomplish much, novice incompetence, and ideological posturing. Already four incumbents (Bruce Harrell, Sally Bagshaw, Mike O’Brien, and Rob Johnson), sensing the barometric changes, have decided not to run. Seattle’s default mode of middle-class reform is making a familiar comeback, contesting all seven council races. The Movement Left that has held sway at city hall for the past decade now faces a kind of last stand. They will fight hard to keep its control.

Image: YouTube

David Brewster
David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and Crosscut.com. His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.

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