Hacks & Wonks 2023 Post-Primary Roundtable Part 1

Hacks & Wonks 2023 Post-Primary Roundtable Part 1

For this Tuesday show, we present Part 1 of the Hacks & Wonks 2023 Post-Primary Roundtable which was live-streamed on August 8, 2023 with special guests - journalists Daniel Beekman, Guy Oron, and Melissa Santos.

In Part 1, the panel breaks down primary election results for the crowded Seattle City Council races in Districts 1 through 5 - looking at how vote shares, campaign finances, redistricting, candidate quality, endorsements, and more played a part in who came out as the top two.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the roundtable releasing this Friday for more election analysis!

About the Guests

Daniel Beekman

Daniel Beekman is the Seattle Times politics and communities reporter.

Find Daniel Beekman on Twitter/X at @DBeekman.

Guy Oron

Guy Oron is the Staff Reporter for Real Change, covering local news, labor, policing, the environment, criminal legal issues and politics. His writing has been featured in a number of publications including the South Seattle Emerald, The Nation and The Stranger. Raised in Seattle, Guy brings a community and student organizer perspective to their journalism, highlighting stories of equity and justice.

Find Guy Oron on Twitter/X at @GuyOron.

Melissa Santos

Melissa Santos is one of two Seattle-based reporters for Axios. She has spent the past decade covering Washington politics and the Legislature, including five years covering the state Capitol for The News Tribune in Tacoma and three years for Crosscut, a nonprofit news website. She was a member of The Seattle Times editorial board from 2017 to 2019, where she wrote columns and opinion pieces focused on state government.

Find Melissa Santos on Twitter/X at @MelissaSantos1.


Hacks & Wonks 2023 Post-Primary Roundtable Livestream | August 8th, 2023


[00:00:00] Shannon Cheng: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I’m Shannon Cheng, Producer for the show. You’re listening to Part 1 of our 2023 Post-Primary Roundtable that was originally aired live on Tuesday, August 8th. Audio for Part 2 will be running this Friday, so make sure you stay tuned. Full video from the event and a full text transcript of the show can be found on our website officialhacksandwonks.com. Thank you for tuning in!

[00:00:37] Crystal Fincher: Hello everyone - good evening. Welcome to the Hacks & Wonks Post-Primary Roundtable. I'm Crystal Fincher, I'm a political consultant and host of the Hacks & Wonks podcast and radio show. And today I'm thrilled to be joined by three of my favorite hacks and wonks - local reporters - to break down what happened in last week's primary election.

We're excited to be able to livestream this roundtable on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Additionally, we are recording this roundtable for broadcast on KODX and KVRU radio, podcast, and it will be available with a full text transcript on officialhacksandwonks.com.

Our esteemed panelists for the evening are: Politics and Communities reporter for The Seattle Times, Daniel Beekman. Staff Reporter for Real Change, covering local news, labor, policing, the environment, criminal legal issues and politics, Guy Oron. And Seattle Axios reporter, Melissa Santos. Welcome everyone.

So I think we will get started talking about Seattle and all of these races for Seattle City Council. This is a year where we had some redistricted council districts in Seattle - we had a number of incumbents decide not to seek reelection, and a few who did - and some really interesting results.

So I think we'll start in District 1, which is in the West Seattle area, where we see a result of Maren Costa with the lead - currently at 33.16% - and the second person getting through the primary, Rob Saka, with 24% here. So I guess just starting out - how are these candidates positioned, and what do you think this primary says about the state of the district and the state of this race going into the general? Starting with Daniel - what are your thoughts here?

[00:02:47] Daniel Beekman: Oh, yeah, good questions - I'm interested to hear what the other folks have to say. I guess the one thing that strikes me about the race is that, like in - I think - every other race of the seven districts, we're going into the general election with a candidate who was endorsed by The Stranger's editorial board and one endorsed by The Seattle Times editorial board - which operates separately from our newsroom. And that's pretty typical for Seattle City Council elections. And maybe even without those endorsements, this race and others would have ended up the way they did - but I think that's something to note in this race and others. The other thing that struck me about this race is two pretty interesting candidates, background-wise - especially to some extent in Seattle politics with Costa. Doesn't really fit the - if there's a typical sort of Seattle candidate, especially in the left lane - the progressive, more progressive lane. I don't know if she fits quite into that. She doesn't come from a - she hasn't worked at the City Council, she doesn't come from the County or State Labor Council, she hasn't been steeped in local Democratic legislative district politics or anything like that, I don't think. She's from the tech world and was an activist in that world. So I don't know - I found that interesting, I don't know if that's a major takeaway - but it's something in that race that I think will be interesting to watch going forward.

[00:04:41] Crystal Fincher: Go ahead, Melissa. What did you think?

[00:04:42] Melissa Santos: I will be curious. It's really hard in a race where there's - what, we have eight candidates here again, or was it actually nine, eight in this one as well - to predict how the votes that the candidates didn't get will shake out. I'm really curious to see where Phil Tavel's votes go because - he ran last time too - and again, more one of the more business-friendly candidates in this race. And I'm just not sure that there'll be a one-for-one accounting for those votes, necessarily, when you come into November. Theoretically, those votes would go to the more central lane candidate, who is Rob Saka. But I don't know that that math is a direct line when there's a lot of time between here and November. And also, they're just - sometimes people are really attracted to someone's personal story in these races, right? We're focused as reporters and commentators sometimes on - who's the moderate, who's the lefty, or whatever. And sometimes I don't know that voters always are. Maybe there's one particular idea they had, that they talked about at the door, that people were into or a percentage were into. And there's also progressive candidates here that had some votes that are not making it to the primary, so I just don't know - I have zero idea how the votes for the non-winning candidates will shake out.

[00:06:06] Crystal Fincher: What do you think, Guy?

[00:06:08] Guy Oron: Yeah, I think to start - with all these Seattle races, I think the biggest message is that most people didn't vote. 64% of folks didn't vote in these elections. And it'll be interesting to see where those people land in the general. It did seem like a very competitive race - all these City Council races - but especially the open ones. And I think Maren was able to really use her credentials as an activist to get a lot of support among progressives, and while the more right-of-center lane was a little more split between Phil and Rob Saka. And it'll be interesting to see how it measures up. I think right-leaning candidates won just about 50%, compared to progressive ones that won about 45%. I was doing some rough arithmetic earlier - it is pretty narrow margin. It'll be interesting to see how it goes.

[00:07:18] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, this is a race where it looks like this is going to be a competitive race in the general election. We did see an interesting role that donors played in this race where there were some substantial fundraising numbers from a number of candidates, even several who didn't make it through. I think there were a few who eclipsed $50,000 who did not make it through the general election. And then you have the two that did make it through raising a considerable amount of money, in addition to an independent expenditure on behalf of Rob Saka that made some news - for a Trump-supporting donor included in there and certainly more business-aligned candidate there. How do you see the role of donors and money and the way that the primary election shaped up, and what do you think that says about the general election? - starting with you, Guy.

[00:08:15] Guy Oron: It'll be interesting to see. I think with Democracy Vouchers, it really changes the game and allows people who don't rely on corporate donations to run. And I think that gives Costa an edge there to fight at least an even battle. It'll be interesting to see if this election is more like 2019, where corporate donations sparked a big backlash, or more like 2021 when they got folks like Davison over the line.

[00:08:49] Melissa Santos: The independent expenditures, I think, will be interesting to watch because theoretically the Democracy Vouchers do even the playing field. But once you get all that independent expenditure money in there, it's not limited in the same way. So I do think we'll see this huge flood of outside money going forward. And I am watching how - whether that kind of undermines the intent of the Democracy Voucher program. We've had a few years now where we've watched how this plays out. But particularly this year, I'm looking at that because I just think there will be a lot of outside money. And there already has been in this race in particular - maybe not a lot yet, but more than in other races, of city council races - and that can tip the scales. But like Guy said, there has been backlash before. We certainly saw that with the $1 million Amazon donation to the Chamber's PAC that kind of seemed to have that kind of resurgence of the progressive candidates in protest a few years ago.

[00:09:53] Daniel Beekman: Yeah, I think it would be right to expect big outside spending in this race and some of the other races that look like they could be very competitive - that seems very likely. And one of the sort of quirks of this race in terms of spending in the primary was that there were some candidates - as you mentioned Crystal - like Stephen Brown got under 10%, spent money or raised quite a bit of money. But a fair chunk of that, I think - just looking, $34,000 or something like that was from himself, I believe. So that kind of tips the scales sometimes, or it can be confusing looking at the overall totals. But yeah, this is one of those races where I would be surprised if there wasn't a lot of independent spending in the general election.

[00:10:52] Melissa Santos: You're saying bagels can't buy a City Council seat, Dan? Is that what you're saying?

[00:10:57] Daniel Beekman: I'm just saying that this City - what was it? The mailer - This City deserves better bagels?

[00:11:05] Melissa Santos: Bagels. Yeah, maybe that wasn't effective - maybe a different audience, maybe next cycle.

[00:11:11] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it's going to be interesting to see. And another race where sometimes people just have a ton of money and they think - I have a ton of money, I can loan myself money, donate to the campaign. But more often than not, we see those predominantly self-funders not necessarily finishing all that well. It actually does take the support of people in the community and those donations are basically a measure of support from people. And that seems to be important in overall results.

I do want to talk about District 2 now, which includes the Rainier Valley, southeast Seattle. And that is where incumbent Tammy Morales is facing Tanya Woo, who will be proceeding through to the primary. And this is one of those races where in Seattle we see numbers shift from Election Night to others - this certainly was no exception, a race that shifted. And as we stand now, Tammy Morales - over 52% of the vote here, 52.26%. Tanya Woo with 42.58%, so about a 10-point spread. This is one of the races where people were wondering if there was going to be a backlash to the council that showed up. Lots of talk going in about - Oh, the council may not be popular or have high approval ratings. I've noted several times, similar to Congressional approval numbers, those don't really have much bearing to individual Congressional results. Here to individual city council results, this is seemingly a strong finish for Tammy Morales as an incumbent here. How did you see this race, Guy?

[00:12:52] Guy Oron: Yeah, I think initially on Election Night - oftentimes media covers it as a definitive - especially not local media, but national media. It did seem close, but the fact that Tammy Morales won by 10% - got over 50% - that's huge for her. And I think it will be very, very hard for Tanya Woo to unseat her at this point. And it shows that Morales has a lot of support from a lot of the district. And so, especially considering the fact that Harrell went really hard supporting Woo and it looks like that didn't work out too well for him.

[00:13:36] Crystal Fincher: Do you agree, Daniel?

[00:13:38] Daniel Beekman: Yeah, I think to an extent. Definitely the race swung a lot - I think more than any other from Election Night to now - although other races did also have a leftward swing with the later ballots. It looks like to stand any kind of a chance, Tanya Woo will have to - she's a first-time candidate and raise her game, her candidate game, in the next couple months. And also it will be interesting to see - what I was looking for on Election Night - will that race be close enough for the people who fund those independent expenditures to decide that they want to get in? I don't know, but maybe they weren't necessarily expecting her to - Woo to come out on top, but maybe they're looking at - Well, is it close enough to make it worth our while to spend? And if I was her, I wouldn't want to hear the race described like that. But I think it's just reality as people are looking in from the outside and they're making decisions about where their money is best, would best be spent. So it'll be interesting to see if - what calculation those folks make - whether people think it was close enough to be worth pouring money in or not.

[00:15:13] Melissa Santos: Because remember - this was one of the least crowded races. It was just Tanya Woo, Tammy Morales, and then Margaret Elisabeth who got less than 5% of the vote. So it's not one of those sort of mystery, how did the vote split situations as much. This one is more likely to be pretty predictive of the general election. And yeah, there's only so much money to spend - even though we talk about tons of money in politics, people don't want to just throw it at nothing. And I don't think it's a lost cause - I think Tanya Woo has a chance - it doesn't look as good as it did on the night of the election for her.

[00:15:47] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. This - to your point, Melissa - more than the others, I think - one, could be viewed through the lens of, Is this a referendum on Tammy Morales and/or the council? And also, this is one where it does pretty much reflect what the race is going to be in the general election. I don't think we've seen a situation before, barring a massive scandal, where an incumbent has finished with over 52% of the vote and lost. To your point, those trying to figure out - there are a number of open seats, there are certainly seats that some people want to pick up - Is it worth spending in those and this one? - is going to be part of the calculation that people make. But this is a harder one - it's hard to see incumbents losing in this kind of a position. How do you see the general election shaping up here, Daniel?

[00:16:49] Daniel Beekman: I think we know what kind of a race Tammy Morales is likely to run because she's - I think she's run similar races to some extent, when she won her seat and then the race before that when she nearly unseated Bruce Harrell. So I think we know what that's going to look like. I think the question is more how Tanya Woo is going to try to make up the vote she didn't get or gain in the general - what that looks like, whether that means leaning into her, more into her sort of community work in the CID [Chinatown International District] , or if it means hammering on a particular issue like public safety or something like that. So I think that's - I don't know - but that's what I would be looking for is where this sort of question lies. But, yeah, I think it's - incumbents don't get knocked off very often. I was trying to think - I probably should have just looked it up, but I was trying to think before this about when's the last time the Seattle City Council incumbent was unseated and I was thinking about Jean Godden losing in the 2015 primary in a crowded race. But I think I could be totally spacing on a more recent one. But that seems like, in my mind, the most recent one and that's eight years ago now.

[00:18:21] Crystal Fincher: Go ahead, Melissa.

[00:18:22] Melissa Santos: I have a barking dog, so I'm trying to spare everyone from that. But yeah - now that I think about it - I was thinking - time is flat to me at this point, but Richard Conlin was a couple years before that. So what you're saying may be very well the most recent. We haven't seen a lot of incumbents go down and have those dramatic flips recently. It has happened, but not super recently. I will say - for Morales, since Sawant is leaving the council, she is, I think, the most - in this traditional lens of going back to who's left and who's center, right? Morales is the sort of furthest left member I think we have up for election this year. So the fact that she did get pretty good results in the primary, it suggests to me that there might not be this huge, huge upswell of being fed up with far-left City Council politics. There's certainly things people are unhappy with - we've seen polling that says people want more action on stuff - housing, homelessness. People want action. They want things to change, but they don't - necessarily voting out the most liberal candidates at this point.

[00:19:31] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, I think that's a really good point. And I think, I've talked about it before in other places, but sometimes we hear about polling a lot and it's - Well, people are unhappy. And that's a reflection on people being unhappy with City councilmembers and approval ratings are low. And I think there are a lot of people who are unhappy with the state of things today, but I think sometimes we make assumptions about why that is and assume that that automatically means that they're unhappy with their councilmember. And that's not necessarily the case. I think that this is yet another example of that, where we need to go further and ask - Okay, so you're not happy with the state of things. Is it because - when it comes to public safety, do you want a more punitive and carceral approach, or do you want more intervention and community violence intervention and more addressing root causes? And I think if you look at the people on the ground in Seattle, they do want to do more to address some of the systemic issues that we have, to address some of the root causes, get more to prevention instead of trying to respond to so much after the fact. And I think that these results - almost in this race more than others - where there was a direct contrast between the two and a direct policy difference between the two. And we saw voters basically affirm that the direction Tammy Morales is heading is one that they're, that most are happy with. And especially in a lower turnout primary election, in an off-year, this is where you would expect unhappiness to really materialize if there was a desire to - kick all the bums out, that saying for people who are elected, but that didn't seem to materialize with two of the three incumbents finishing over 50%. And the third with the plurality of the vote there. How do you think this moves forward with that, Guy?

[00:21:37] Guy Oron: Yeah, I do think it's a vindication for some of the people who were in the Solidarity Budget coalition, who are supporting decriminalization and defund, that maybe they see that one of the councilmembers that stood by their side got over 50%. I think they'll be reassured by that. I do think Tanya Woo got a lot of support in the CID and was able to really voice to that neighborhood that has been ignored a lot in the media by policymakers - or used as tokens, but not actually given proper seat at the table. So I think even if Morales wins the general election, that'll be something on the top of her priorities - is to better address the CID. And I think that was something that Woo was able to bring, even if she doesn't win in the general.

[00:22:36] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Go ahead, Daniel.

[00:22:39] Daniel Beekman: Oh, I was just going to say - and there's also sort of the differences district-to-district and candidate-to-candidate where - definitely Tammy Morales had a, looks like a strong result. On the other hand, you saw Dan Strauss trying to distance himself from some of his pro-defund advocacy from back in 2020 - I think I saw a mailer. And so whether he's right or not, he's obviously a little bit concerned about some of that coming back to bite him with voters in his district, so there's some differences district to district as well.

[00:23:24] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, I agree with that. Another district - District 3, where Councilmember Kshama Sawant will not be seeking reelection, so this is for the person who will succeed Councilmember Sawant. And so in this race, we have the two making it through - Joy Hollingsworth with 36.89% right now and Alex Hudson being the second, making it through with 36.52%. Another very crowded race - this is a very close result, maybe the closest result. And two very different candidates than the current incumbent. What do you think this says about the district, and what do you think this says about the race? - starting with Melissa.

[00:24:12] Melissa Santos: It is really close - you're less than a percentage point between these candidates now that we've seen the results shake out. And it is another situation where you have Joy Hollingsworth being the Seattle Times Editorial Board-endorsed candidate - not the newsroom, but the editorial board - and Alex Hudson being the Stranger-endorsed candidate up against one another. However, it's interesting to me because Alex Hudson is then - would be in the camp of being this more progressive candidate, right? - which in certain ways, she is. She's a long-time transit advocate and is - I remember, one time, her doing a video of confronting Tim Eyman, the anti-tax initiative pusher. And so she's done those sorts of things, but she's also someone who's worked a little bit more within the establishment than - certainly than Sawant, for instance - lobbying, building coalitions. So we're not seeing, and this has been said a lot about this race and I'm not the only one to say it, but we're not seeing anyone who wants to burn the barn down here in this race in the same way. We're not seeing a Socialist candidate in the same way even, and I'm actually - I haven't talked to these candidates as much as Dan and Guy probably have, but I actually think they're closer together on some issues than maybe it appears from those divergent endorsements. And I think some of that is likely to come to light during the general election, and it's possible that their positions don't as neatly line up necessarily with this sort of pro-business and labor/left activism, although in some ways they do.

[00:25:45] Crystal Fincher: Do you agree, Guy?

[00:25:48] Guy Oron: I definitely agree that it's a huge change from Kshama Sawant and either one of the candidates won't be Socialists. And so I think that'll be something for Seattle left to think about - how do you build momentum for a more broad base, long-term institutional victory - to get five council seats at least instead of just one. And that's - they have to go to the drawing board and think about that long-term. But in terms of Hudson and Hollingsworth, I think Hudson started off a little slow, but managed to snag some important endorsements - and that's credit to her and her long-time presence in the policy world in Seattle. And I think Hollingsworth also is a very compelling candidate - I've seen her at so many different events in the community. She really shows up - for example, when Nurturing Roots was closing back in March, not even in her district, but she was the only candidate to show up and show support. So I think that's credit to her and really cultivating her base in the CD [Central District] . And I definitely think it will be a tight race. Progressives did - all the progressive candidates together did win about 4 or 5% more than the more moderate candidates, so it'll be interesting to see if Hollingsworth can manage to build a coalition of moderate liberals and especially in the CD, turn out folks who aren't voting just to get over the line.

[00:27:30] Crystal Fincher: Do you agree, Daniel?

[00:27:32] Daniel Beekman: Yeah, I guess this is a race where Bruce Harrell has endorsed Joy Hollingsworth, right? So it'll be interesting to see what kind of impact that has, if any, that can be discerned - Mayor Bruce Harrell. Alex Hudson has a varied background, but coming out of the Transportation Choices Coalition - which is transit advocacy but labor-aligned - and in the world of the big players in Seattle politics and been a policy and politician factory. Rob Johnson, a councilmember, was the Executive Director there. And Jessyn Farrell, former state lawmaker, and other people - so it's been churning out folks into government, so that's interesting. But I think Melissa and Guy covered a lot of this, so I don't have a whole lot to add. I had noticed just on social media a little bit - and I should say that I'm not, I should shout out my coworker Sarah Grace Taylor, who's been doing a lot of the coverage of the City Council races this year for us rather than myself, so I'm not the expert - but just on observing on social media, I feel like I've seen a little bit of different emphases in how the two candidates are positioning themselves. Joy Hollingsworth trying to emphasize her community ties. And Alex Hudson - I just saw on the way over to do this - talking up transit as an issue. Obviously because she's - that's some of her background. But also she must think it will play well with voters saying - in that district that's pretty transit reliant.

[00:29:32] Melissa Santos: In theory, Joy Hollingsworth would be the candidate who's newer to politics - in theory - if you look at them. However, Joy is coming from a family of sort of political legacies in a way as well. Her grandmother Dorothy was the first African American woman elected to the Seattle School Board - and I think that's part of her community story a little bit that Joy is playing up - being from the Central District, being part of the legacy of people making change and pushing forward, which is interesting since she's the more establishment candidate endorsed by the mayor. But that's why the dynamics of this race are a little interesting to me. Because the narrative is not as clean as what we've looked at - races in the past where it's, again, lefty versus more business friendly Democrat kind of races in Seattle.

[00:30:26] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, I think that's spot on. And this is a district where there's a Socialist as an incumbent. This is arguably the most left district in the city that doesn't quite have a candidate that speaks to that far left end that Kshama Sawant does. And I do agree that there are potentially a number of overlaps or places where the policy differences may not be as clear from the very beginning. So I think this is going to be a race where it's going to be important to examine where the candidates stand. It's going to be important to understand where the differences are and to really understand what they're bringing in terms of - not just votes, but where they're willing to lead and push, perhaps, the council. What are going to be their signature issues? And what are going to be the issues where they may just be an additional vote? I think that there's a lot that people still don't know, and this is going to be one of the most interesting districts for trying to ferret out what those differences and contrasts are.

Also notice that fundraising in this race - again, a lot of money raised throughout the district. This is a race - we saw the result being very close - also the amount raised, both raising about $94,000 there. And so this is another race where both seem to have a lot of fundraising capacity. Is this going to be a race where outside entities get involved? And I also think those outside entities are going to be listening for cues from each of those candidates. Who do funders see as their ally on the council? Who does labor see as a stronger ally on the council? I think that there's still more that they're figuring out here. And those donations, those types of donors and those endorsements, are also going to do a lot of speaking for these candidates about where they stand and how they're likely to govern.

[00:32:26] Melissa Santos: I was surprised that - based on just fundraising - that Alex Cooley didn't do a little bit better because they raised $95,000 as well. I don't know if any of you can explain what happened there, because I expected a better showing for that amount of money - I thought, I don't know - just looking from the outside at it.

[00:32:42] Daniel Beekman: Yeah, I didn't follow it close enough to know - was it mostly Democracy Vouchers?

[00:32:46] Melissa Santos: Yes, must be. Yeah, it's a mystery to me.

[00:32:50] Guy Oron: He was the only candidate to run on a platform of only taking Democracy Vouchers and he didn't accept private donations, which I think is an interesting platform and could prove compelling if you think about - I'm not beholden to any interests, only the people. But I think his ground game was strong, but he didn't have a lot of institutional support from people like The Stranger, and so that's why he fell short.

[00:33:22] Daniel Beekman: Yeah, and to pick up on something that you mentioned when you introduced the race, Crystal - it's interesting to think about - Sawant won her seat in 2013, so 10 years ago. And to think about how much District 3 - those neighborhoods, like Capitol Hill and the CD, have changed in the last 10 years. And think about is that why we didn't get someone with Kshama Sawant's politics in this race? Or is it because people are tired of her personally and that's soured them? But they narrowly voted down a recall just recently, so they're not that sick of it. I don't know, I find that interesting to ponder on whether the fact that there are two very unlike-Sawant candidates and two non-Socialist candidates going into the general election has anything to do with her or not, has anything to do with changes in the electorate or not. I don't have the answer, but I'm intrigued by that question.

[00:34:37] Crystal Fincher: I don't have the answer to that one either, but I do think this is a race where endorsements mattered a lot because it was hard, just on the face, to see some of the automatic differences between the candidates in a way that you can in some of the other districts perhaps. And so this is another one where we talk about the importance of The Times and The Stranger endorsements and that certainly carried through here, in people looking at The Stranger as a cue to see who is considered to be the most progressive. Lots of times people are doing the same thing with The Times on the other side, if they want a more moderate presence on the council. And so I think those endorsements really mattered - in this race in particular - but in several of them overall.

Also want to talk about the District 4 election. Now this is a district where - we talk about change over the last 10 years - this is certainly a district where I think recent results that we're seeing there reflect an evolution of the district and a change in this district. And so both with redistricting here and in this race, probably one of the cleanest lines between what is considered traditionally someone in the progressive lane and those traditionally in a moderate to conservative lane. How did you see this race shaping up, Guy?

[00:35:59] Guy Oron: Yeah, I think it echoes the last 2019 elections, but now Ron P. Davis is number one instead of Alex Pedersen, so that's a good sign for him. And he is the strongest non-incumbent candidate in Seattle, winning 45% of the vote. It does seem like, with more development and just growing density, there are changing demographics. So it could be an opportunity for a pretty dramatic swing towards the left in this district. But still, the more moderate conservative candidates won about 55% of the vote together - Wilson and Maritza Rivera. So it'll be very competitive, and I think it all relies on if Ron can turn out all the students to vote for him who tend to lean more progressive.

[00:37:04] Crystal Fincher: How do you see this race, Melissa?

[00:37:07] Melissa Santos: Theoretically, it would make sense to add together those sort of more centrist candidates and say - Oh, they got 55% - and I don't disagree with doing that, Guy. The thing that was weird to me is - and I wish I had in front of me at the moment - but there was a mailer that went out and Crystal, you saw this and I just think Dan, you also probably saw this - but where it didn't, it seemed like Wilson was going after Rivera, who was closer to him politically, than he was going after Davis. And there were checkmarks and it's like Davis got more checks being aligned with Wilson than Maritza Rivera did on this particular advertisement and mailer. And I don't know if that kind of communication is going to then make some people think that Davis is more aligned - people who voted for Wilson - if they're going to think, go forward thinking Davis is more their guy than Rivera. Or there's a lot of election communication still yet to happen, so I guess all of that can be reset. But it seemed like that was one of the primary communication that's happening in that district. And it may have disrupted the dynamic in a way of the sort of candidates and saying - Oh yeah, this is now my candidate since mine got knocked out since they're the most similar. And so I'm not sure how that will carry out forward going with this election into the general.

[00:38:23] Daniel Beekman: Yeah, that's interesting - whether that mailer will stick in anyone's mind and sour them on Rivera when they might not otherwise be. I think probably what Ken Wilson was going for there was just looking and assuming that - Well, Ron Davis is getting through, it's between me and Maritza Rivera about who's getting through on the other lane, and so let's see if I can make that happen without - like we were talking about - one of these newspaper endorsements. And it didn't work as much as he needed to, at least.

Yeah, District 4 is interesting. Shaun Scott ran - I think running as a Democratic Socialist to some extent in 2019 - ran Alex Pedersen really close in District 4 in that year. And I guess my sort of what I'll be watching for in this one is how Ron Davis moves forward - whether he tries to draw really sharp contrast between himself and Maritza Rivera and he thinks that's the key, or if he tries to tack to the center a bit to try to win over some of those maybe slightly more moderate voters or Ken Wilson voters in some way. And I'll just tell a sort of funny story. I went out on Election Day to do some just person-on-the-street voter reporting. And it was funny because I was in District 4 and District 5 for a while talking to voters. And I had two voters - one was this sort of like older boomer, typical Seattle boomer voter, and to some extent - whatever that is. And I said - What are you thinking about? And most of the people I talked to didn't have some sort of mega-narrative about the Seattle election cycle, like we're going to throw out the lefties or we're going to do this. It was more - they're kind of grasping at straws a bit in my little unscientific sample size. But this somewhat older voter said - Well, I care about trees and I went to this tree protest in Wedgwood for Luma the cedar tree. And Ken Wilson was there and he seemed to care, so I'm voting for him - that's a big reason. And then I talked to a voter - more lefty-seeming voter in her 20s, I think - elsewhere, I think in the U district. And they said - Well, I care about climate change and I went to this protest for the cedar tree. And Ron Davis was there, so I'm voting for him. So I don't know if that means anything, but it just goes to show - yeah, so it will be interesting to see, does Ron Davis lean into the tree protest? Or does he lean into let's densify and tax big business?

[00:41:30] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, this is going to be interesting. And those anecdotes are always so interesting, and I think underscores just from the inside-a-campaign candidate perspective - three quarters of the job, three quarters of the work is in showing up, whether it's on someone's doorstep, whether it's at an event. People want to see that you're actively engaged in the community and in the issues that they care about. So I would just encourage all of the candidates to do that. And the more you can talk to regular voters, the better.

But this is an interesting race here. This is another race where we also saw an independent expenditure on behalf of, or in favor of, Maritza Rivera here. And it is an interesting race where - I don't know that this race, these votes consolidate cleanly pre-mailer in the way that they would expect. On top of that, this is a district that, a similar district, just last year elected Darya Farivar. And you think that the general election electorate is going to look more similar to what we saw in an even-year election then - that certainly is more progressive than that district and that area has been for a while. So are we seeing a shift in the preferences of a district? Are we seeing a shift in the issues that are concerning people? Certainly housing affordability is a major issue throughout all of Seattle, but also playing out in this district where I think the previous calculus and assumption was that this is a district full of NIMBYs and they seem to be voting in the opposite direction now. So this is going to be a really interesting race to pay attention to and one that may attract a lot of outside money because there are clearer lanes with a moderate in the race seemingly and a progressive - and looking to really pick up the seat for one or the other.

Also want to talk about the District 5 race, which is another interesting, exciting race and was a pretty close race. So we have Cathy Moore here - close overall, especially for the second and third place finisher here - so Cathy Moore finishing with 32.26% of the vote, ChrisTiana ObeySumner - they're finishing with 21.38% of the vote here. How did you see this vote shaping up in the primary? Nilu Jenks is finishing currently in third place, just outside of making it through the primary. Guy, how did you see this developing?

[00:44:19] Guy Oron: Yeah, I think the District 5 race was by far the most fractured and we had, I think, tied for the most amount of candidates. And so people - I think a lot of people voted for their first choice and I think ChrisTiana was able to be a sort of dark horse and come out on top. I think a lot of people were expecting Nilu Jenks to win, and so now those voters will have to decide whether they prefer Moore or ChrisTiana - and I think that will decide which way the district goes. But I think North Seattle is not usually thought of as a progressive stronghold, but I think it is surprisingly pretty progressive in terms of where people are voting. And I think people have all sorts of politics, like chaotic politics, where they support trees and density - and how do you reconcile those two, and I think that's up to the candidates to show that they're more well-spoken and have a stronger vision about integrating these various contradictions.

[00:45:32] Crystal Fincher: What do you think, Melissa?

[00:45:34] Melissa Santos: I was just reviewing some of the candidates' sort of statements and where they're coming from - it does encapsulate to me a little bit - you have Cathy Moore talking about public safety. All the candidates are talking about safety and should be talking about public safety probably, but she's coming at - literally in her voter guide statement says - I'm the pragmatic solution - very much very focused on capturing that center lane, people who might want to see a little bit more timely police response is a huge part of her platform. And again, everyone wants the cops to probably, I think, to respond to emergencies probably. I don't think there's too many people saying - well, okay, I retract my statement. It's a very complicated issue, actually. But I mean emphasizing that - as opposed to emphasizing housing and upstream solutions to homelessness, which is where ChrisTiana was doing with her statements. I just think we have a lot of contrast between people talking about housing, to be honest - housing, housing, housing on one side and then people talk about public safety sometimes when you get - in the more traditional races where you get those center lane candidates.

And housing is a message that's resonating with people. People, I think, want housing to be a thing. And again, for instance, we had this Social Housing measure pass earlier this year and I think that kind of - Tammy Morales, again, who is leading in her race and getting good, has really been supportive of that social housing measure and finding money to actually implement it. And as far as District - back to District 5 - I think ChrisTiana ObeySumner is also talking about those sorts of things more so than cops and hiring more police, and I think that there's people who want to hear them talk about that. And there certainly were other candidates in this race talking about different solutions to some of the sort of agreed upon crisis we see - maybe homelessness and housing - but I think those sort of holistic solutions, people are listening to that in an interesting way in some of these races. And this is an example of that to me.

[00:47:48] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, this is a race where I think there was a broader range of viewpoints represented in this race across the spectrum that we see in Seattle. There was Tye Reed also in this race, who was very involved in the Social Housing initiative and that passing, and taking up a left mantle. But a number of progressive candidates - I think, yet again, this was another race where people were trying to figure out who was most aligned with their beliefs and that may have been not as easy as some people would have thought at first glance. And so another race where I think the endorsements from The Times and The Stranger were once again consequential. But I also think this is one where - a lot of times, I think we underestimate sometimes just individual candidate attributes, individual candidate performance, how people are connecting. And especially with how close this race was, particularly between the second and third place finishers - ChrisTiana ObeySumner and Nilu Jenks - I think ChrisTiana did a more effective job at clearly articulating where they stood on issues. And that was more of a challenge for Nilu Jenks, where some people left with some impressions based on what they said and they said things that gave other impressions to people. And so voters trying to reconcile who these candidates are and what kind of votes to expect, endorsing organizations trying to ferret out what kind of votes should they expect from these - I think that this is an example of being clear about where you stand is helpful in getting through to establishment people, getting through to voters, and making the kinds of connections that get you through to the general election. What do you think, Daniel?

[00:49:50] Daniel Beekman: I was going to say - yeah, I don't have a lot to add, I don't think, about these particular two candidates. But I spent some time on Election Day - again, my very unscientific sample size, by the Lake City Library and a lot of people were talking about homelessness and people were talking about public drug use. And it will be interesting to see how these candidates navigate some issues like that. I do think that the questions about prosecuting people for using drugs in public - that has been in the headlines recently at City Hall, so that will likely in this race and others be something that is talked about. But Guy mentioned Darya Farivar's - or maybe you did, Crystal, or both of you - that election that she ran and won last year. And I would think that candidates in both District 4 and District 5 might want to be looking at that - and some of it is just about a candidate and their personality and what they have going for them. But if you're a smart candidate in those districts, you're looking at that race and - what did she do? And also just reminded me that - in terms of sort of some changes politically - is that on issues like criminal justice or the legal system, on issues around housing - both zoning, which is traditionally very much a city issue, but also on funding affordable housing - it seems like there are more of those conversations and more action happening in Olympia than there was some years ago. And I don't know if that sort of makes some of these City races feel a little bit less urgent for folks, but it's something that's occurred to me where - some years ago when there was just nothing happening in the State Legislature, when people are looking for help or for change, it made City elections that much more high stakes, but maybe that's been changing a little bit.

[00:51:58] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and I also think this is an interesting race just because of the expanded representation that could potentially be coming to the Council - non-binary person, disabled BIPOC person - and that kind of representation being really important. We're seeing so many other members of the community deal with challenges and access issues related to that, that some lived experience could be very enlightening and helpful in crafting solutions that meet the needs of everyone in the City. So I'll be interested to see that explored throughout the general election. And just figuring out, once again, where these candidates stand on issues. There's going to be a lot that the City Council is going to be dealing with over the next several years. And so I hope that there really is an attempt to figure out where the candidates stand and what solutions they feel - not just that they're willing to vote for, but that they're really willing to lean on and try and craft solutions with their colleagues on this for.

[00:53:06] Shannon Cheng: You just listened to Part 1 of our 2023 Post-Primary Roundtable that was originally aired live on Tuesday, August 8th. Audio for Part 2 will be running this Friday, so make sure to stay tuned. Full video from the event and a full text transcript of the show can be found on our website officialhacksandwonks.com.

The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Shannon Cheng. You can find Hacks & Wonks on Twitter @HacksWonks, and you can follow Crystal @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I. You can catch Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave us a review wherever you listen. You can also get a full transcript of this episode at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the podcast episode notes.

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