My crystal ball is clearing, so here are some predictions. First, neither Biden nor Trump will be the nominees in 2024. Second, the new leader of Seattle politics is Sara Nelson, the odd-moderate-out member of the current Seattle City Council who will now be leader of the new moderate super-majority.
I’m intrigued by a prediction from a conservative friend in D.C., who suspects a plot by Democrats to hold onto the White House. His three-cushion shot goes this way: Biden delays until late spring his decision and then suddenly declines to accept a nomination. (A doctor conveniently finds that unnamed health reasons preclude a new four-year term.) The delayed Biden exit gives Biden time to reset, avoids a divisive, expensive battle for the nomination, and allows a back-room deal to select an “emergency” nominee before other candidates can get traction.
My friend suspects the winner of the hurry-up Democratic nomination will be Gavin Newsom, the progressive governor of California, who is acceptable to all the power blocs of the Dems and has experience cred. The other advantage in selecting Newsom is that it rids the party of the Kamala Harris problem, since by the 12th Amendment the presidential and vice presidential nominees cannot be from the same state. Dropping Harris also means the Democrats can select a balancing moderate as Veep.
My source also predicts Trump won’t get the Republican nomination, owing to his growing legal problems, his emerging unhingedness, and unexpectedly poor performances in some early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Again, a late exit by Trump avoids all the bloodshed of a political assassination, and means the replacement nominee has not served as executioner. Accordingly, both Biden and Trump need to be late dropouts, possibly by secretive pre-arrangement with the donor class.
One tricky dimension to this scenario is whether a miffed Trump then decides to run as a vengeful independent candidate, wrecking the Republican Party much as Teddy Roosevelt did in 1912. It’s possible that we will have a six-corner race for the presidency in 2024: an establishment, pro-choice Democrat; a Trumpified Republican such as Nikki Haley; something resembling a Romney-Manchin centrist party; the Green/Left/Anti-Israel party; an independent Trump; and whatever Robert F. Kennedy can cobble together among fringe and anti-Vax groups.
The winner sneaks into the White House with 38 percent of the vote. Or (ominous music) the failure of anyone to win the electoral college majority throws the election into the House, by which a Republican wins in the one-state/one-vote format with the Republicans currently holding 26 of 50 House delegations.
In Seattle, the new president of the city council is fairly certain to be Sara Nelson, and the new budget chair is likely Dan Strauss, among the few experienced members of the council. The other re-elected member is Tammy Morales, but her progressive allies are not enough to vote her into a key position. Morales thus becomes the odd-person-out member of the council, a significant shift from the days where Morales was part of a progressive majority of Teresa Mosqueda, Lisa Herbold, Kshama Sawant, all of whom found an off-ramp.
With Teresa Mosqueda graduating to the King County Council, her at-large vacant seat will be filled by the city council, where a seven-moderate majority will thereby gain an 8-1 moderate majority for Mayor Harrell to work with. This dramatic shift represents a swing of the pendulum to the old, pragmatic, center-left council. Both Nelson and the newly elected Cathy Moore are former staffers for Richard Conlin, and Strauss used to be a staffer for Sally Bagshaw. Another center-left anchor on the pre-Sawant city council, Tim Burgess, is now deputy mayor. The planets are lined up.
So the city council has found a new/old balance. Still, my hopes are tempered for this new era, as the council (full of rookie lawmakers) will soon become quite unpopular for being forced to cut programs and raise taxes, or (more likely) find a please-nobody balance of cuts and new taxes. More surprises and twists of irony await.