Mike O'Brien and Mike McGinn at the last Seattle Transit Blog meet-up.
Mike O'Brien and Mike McGinn

Update at 4:49pm: Today’s drop has Mallahan showing significant gains, and Nickels falling behind further.

Yesterday’s primary election had its first drop of ballot totals late last night and — while it’s still too early to call the races — we’re seeing some encouraging news.

On the city council front, Mike O’Brien and Jessie Israel — two candidates our editorial board endorsed — are looking solid to advance to the general in their respective races. Dow Constantine seems likely to move on to the general for the King County Executive race. We endorsed both Constantine and Phillips for the primary. Phillips ran a strong campaign and he’ll continue to be an ally on the county council.

On the mayoral front, Greg Nickels is a close third behind Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan. The delta is just hundreds of votes, and up to half of the votes have yet to be counted. Right now it’s not clear who will advance to the primary. (This blog’s editorial board endorsed Nickels for the primary.)

You can see the first drop’s totals at Publicola. The next drop is schedule for 4:30pm this afternoon.

54 Replies to “Constantine, O’Brien Hang On; Nickels Could Lose Bid”

    1. No, just the deadline of postmarked by on the day of the primary. If we required that it was postmarked the previous Friday, the results would come in alot faster. That said, the totals by tommorrow afternoon should be pretty close to final.

      1. It’s not the wait, it’s the attempt at early call which was iffy even when we had real elections. The real reason I hate it is that I think it’s unconstitutional (which takes us off topic so I’ll stop there).

    2. I *do* hate mail voting (miss going to the polling place and not having to put my trust in the USPS), but Nickels losing isn’t one of the reasons.

  1. I remember a time a few decades ago when I worked in a local election that was called at 8:40 p.m. on election night. We had spotters who went around to the polling places.

    In those days we voted by machine, and at the end of the day, poll workers would post a printout from the back of the voting machine. By checking the printouts and phoning in the results, we knew of our victory early on election night.

    Now, nearly 40 years later, with all our incredible technological advances, we…wait…and…wait…and…wait….

    1. It’s not like sending something by the postal service is high tech. Fast results is alot less valuable that accruate results.

  2. While I hate waiting for my own election results, I don’t see any public policy reason we *need* instant, or even fast, election results rather than accurate counting and maximum ballot access for legal voters.

    Service personnel overseas and other Americans abroad would be widely disenfranchised by a receipt-date system replacing a postmark-date system. Even moving to an earlier postmark-date cutoff would be problematic given the mailing date of ballots.

    To my mind, complaining about taking a few days or a week to count votes is symptomatic of the shallow horse-race mentality of election coverage in general.

    1. Yes. I agree. I don’t understand why we have to know instantly.

      Having said that… I kind of wish that the dates the ballots could be mailed would be narrowed a bit. Because if people are voting over a multiweek period, you could have a situation that turns the election on its head crop up in the last week or so… after a large chunk of ballots are already in. So everyone is not voting with the same potential information on hand.

      Still, I can see that limiting those dates would provide accessibility issues. Someday, perhaps, we will have some sort of online voting system and wide enough accessibility to it that everyone can go back to voting on the same day. Someday.

      1. I don’t think you’ve thought this through. If the last day to mail the ballots was friday, then the election would be over friday. We would have been staying up all night friday complaining about how we have to wait until tuesday to get the final results. Then someone would suggest moving the deadline to the previous tuesday, and we continue the cycle. So long as ballots travel through the mail, which is frankly a lot more secure than a diabold voting machine if you ask me, then we are just going to have to wait.

        BTW, vote by mail substantially increases voter turnout, especially young voter turnout. THAT might be part of the reason for the surprising results in the Mayor’s race (certainly not the whole story, but with all mail voting, the face of the electorate does change).

      2. “I don’t think you’ve thought this through. If the last day to mail the ballots was friday, then the election would be over friday. We would have been staying up all night friday complaining about how we have to wait until tuesday to get the final results.”

        You don’t seem to have been replying to anything that I said. I think you have me confused with Kenneth, who said “If we required that it was postmarked the previous Friday, the results would come in alot faster. ”

        When I said that I wished the dates they could be mailed in would be narrowed a bit, I did not mean “mail them in by the Friday before the election” — I meant “you can’t mail them in until Election Day or the day before” or something like that. Then if some big news about the candidate breaks right before the election, all the voters are voting with that knowledge (hopefully — I know some people would be oblivious). As it is now, you have people filling out their ballots two weeks early, which seems weird to me. (I never do that. I always wait until the last minute.)

        Under this system, we’d all have to wait for results, and that would be fine. However, I think there would be some accessibility issues, particularly for true absentee voters, so it’s probably not a great system.

        I agree that anything that improves voter turnout is a good thing.

      3. When I said that I wished the dates they could be mailed in would be narrowed a bit, I did not mean “mail them in by the Friday before the election” — I meant “you can’t mail them in until Election Day or the day before” or something like that. Then if some big news about the candidate breaks right before the election, all the voters are voting with that knowledge (hopefully — I know some people would be oblivious). As it is now, you have people filling out their ballots two weeks early, which seems weird to me. (I never do that. I always wait until the last minute.)

        That wouldn’t work for anyone who receives their ballot out of state like members of the military or students attending school out of state. Especially if you are overseas the mail can take a long time.

      4. That’s why I said “However, I think there would be some accessibility issues, particularly for true absentee voters, so it’s probably not a great system.”

        But I think you are still misunderstanding. I was talking about limiting the postmark dates. Students attending school out of state or military members overseas would still have to mail their ballots on a specific day or days. So the ballot would take longer to get here, but so what? It would still probably get here within a week or two at most of the election. Just don’t certify results until a month later. But this would potentially be a problem in some situations for people unable to mail on a specific day, so, as I said more than once, it’s not necessarily an ideal solution anyway.

        And this is probably off-topic by this point, so…

  3. I spoke to at least a half dozen people who were supporting Nickels, but went with either Mallahan or McGinn to have input on who his challenger would be.

    If Nickels ends up losing by a couple hundred votes, I’ll bet this dynamic will have played a deciding role.

    1. I was unsure between Nickels and McGinn, so I voted for McGinn assuming Nickels was sure to get the other slot, and that one of them might prove himself more attractive by the final. I never thought an incumbant could lose a primary, that’s… wow.

      Hopefully the winner will feel the Seattle pulse and support transit. (No comment on the viaduct; both sides have reasonable arguments.)

      1. Mallahan: “I will work with the King County officials to repair City-County relations, to establish a more equitable solution to the current arrangement for how new Metro Bus dollars are spent.”

        McGinn: “We can dramatically improve local transit service with simple steps such as removing redundant bus stops, creating traffic signal priority for transit, implementing pay-before-you-enter fares, leveling loading through multiple doors, and adding bus-only lanes.”

        Mallahan’s position amounts to more of the same, whereas McGinn recognizes that we could do a lot better.

      2. Mallahan’s website is also riddled with inaccuracies like this;

        “Mayor Nickels insisted on building the South Lake Union streetcar, a pet project that diverted over $50 million dollars from City and County coffers at the expense of improving bus transit service in the Rainier Valley.”

        Most of the money for the streetcar didn’t come from the city coffers, it was raised specifically to build the streetcar.

        And this;

        “For the past several years, Mayor Nickels has allowed King County to funnel 80% of incremental bus hours to East and South King County, while Seattle receives only 20% of such hours, even though Seattle riders account for 71% of all bus trips.”

        Maybe he doesn’t understand that the mayor doesn’t control the King County Council.

  4. I was watching some of the election coverage on the evening news the last night. The 37% received by Susan Hutchinson was discouraging to say the least – she was interviewed at her campaign headquarters and touched on transportation. To paraphrase, she said that throwing more trains and buses onto the streets was not a solution, that voters have voted with their vehicles, and that a highway lane expansion is needed.

    I hope Dow Constantine can rally up some support for his campaign.

    1. 37%, but she took over 85% of conservative votes.

      Dow taking Phillips’ votes and adding in those of the moderates should more than make up that gap.

      1. “Dow taking Phillips’ votes and adding in those of the moderates should more than make up that gap.”

        Hopefully so. The reporters commented that Constantine’s chances depend on getting endorsements/votes from some of his former competitors, as well as independents.

        While the office is non-partisan, they commented how heavily Hutchinson’s campaign pandered to the right.

      2. I’m sure the other 3 Democrats in the race will endorse Dow. Heck they’ll probably even campaign for him.

    2. Yes, she is a terrible candidate! Yes, I also agree that Dow should be able to rally the liberal and democratic majority in King County to defeat her. I am sure the STB could come out now and endorse Dow in the race quite frankly and just send us an endorsement reminder in early November!

      I worked for Mr. Phillips and yes, he fought a strong campaign. I have my reservations about the ego-driven nature of the primaries and this is one reason why I think Mr. Phillips may have lost – he perhaps needed to be more ego-driven. He would have made for a great County Executive in this era of Obama and thoughtful governing.

  5. If Greg Nickels isn’t one of the final candidates then not only will Seattleites not have much of a choice in November if the tunnel is to be the issue du jour as lots of bloggers might wish for here, but the choice will already have been decided effective yesterday. I don’t know where Mallahan stands on the tunnel issue, but he is with McGinn then the ‘City’ debate is effectively over and we face more years of discussing this thing. Mayor Nickels needs to be in this race to represent the tunnel’s best interests if I can call it that. I was just listening to Mike McGinn on KUOW and he seems to think that scrapping the tunnel will fund the entire Seattle City budget. I don’t think for one minute that the City’s share of money for the proposed tunnel would be at the expense of libraries, roads, transit, pot hole repair and everything else in the city budget.

    1. This is McGinn’s double-talk routine. He seems to think that if the tunnel plan is scrapped, Seattle will get their share of the money anyway! Which can then be spent on the same things that were in the tunnel plan, but an equal amount can be spent on schools and libraries!

      Of course, he only seems to say this. He’s a lawyer and if you read closely you’ll only find a few outright lies.

  6. Oregon has had all mail voting with a “due date” instead of “postmark date” requirement for some time now. I lived there when it was instituted and there was none of this bitching and moaning about people not having enough time to get the ballots IN by election day. Seems to work fine there and they have results very quickly — none of this standing around grabassing waiting for ballots to roll in…

    FWIW, Mallahan was on TV tonight saying “as far as I am concerned, the tunnel debate is over” — “it will be the mayor’s job to help see that it gets done on time and under budget.”

    Assuming Nickels is out, and assuming that most who voted for him were at worst indifferent to the tunnel, it will be interesting to see how many more people McGinn can convince that his oppostition to the tunnel is worth more than the paper it’s printed on and that his pixie dust “solution” will work. It’s hard not to think that he may have captured almost all of the angry anti-tunnel votes already in his ~26%. That’s part of the problem with being a one-trick pony.

    1. McGinn could pivot on this issue pretty easily. He simply needs to realize he is not running against the mayor anymore, that he is no longer a spunky outsider lobbing spitballs at power. He is now a serious contender, and he has to get real. That means changing the focus from anti-tunnel to all the issues that he IS better than Mallahan on, such as transit and the environment.

      McGinn does not have a chance in hell of getting the backing of the chamber of commerce (who are the real architects behind the tunnel) or the downtown business community, so he might as well run against them. If McGinn positions himself as the neighborhood guy / transit guy / environmental guy who is standing up to big business and fighting for the little guy, that message could easily carry him to victory in this town, especially when running against a former corporate executive.

  7. @ZED — yeah, sort like how McGinn doesn’t understand that the mayor doesn’t run WSDOT (or the legislature, for that matter)?

    Both of these guys are pretty “green” — their inexperience should make either administration entertaining at least.

    1. Perhaps a “green” mayor will result in shift in the balance of power to the city council. Not likely given the current crowd, but these new contenders, Isreal and O’Brian may step up to a leadership role if an inexperienced mayor leaves a power vacuum.

    2. McGinn was so careful in how he misled the public during this campaign that he convinced me he knew exactly what he was doing.

      If Nickels is truly out of the race at this point, you can forget about those extra streetcars (the Capital Hill route will survive as a LINK project) and start planning your lives accordingly.

      So, as matters stand, it looks like another four years of faceless corporatism for Seattle. Who could have guessed that the corporations and people with money would get rid of the guy with the union endorsements?

      Of course, Mallahan couldn’t have done it without the help of the McGinn crowd. Great work, guys- hope it works out for you with that tunnel thing.

      1. I agree… I’m pretty shocked that Nickels is out. He’s the only politician in decades to get anything done for Seattle transportation, did great things for urban planning….. and we kicked him out because he’s not a charming cuddle bear? Because of one snow storm?

        I don’t get Seattle.

      2. McGinn might very well win. Money isn’t everything in politics. Nickels had twice as much as Mallahan and 7 times as much as McGinn. We have no Idea how a Mallahan McGinn race is going to play out.

        Nickles dug his own political grave. There is no reason an incumbent with twice the money of any of his competitors should have lost a primary to two unknown political newcomers. That just doesn’t happen unless a politician has made themselves deeply unpopular. The real shock is more that Drago was the only one with past political experience who dared jump in. When Schell did his flameout he had a whole slew of experienced opponents. To top things off Nickels ran a piss-poor campaign.

      3. My guess is that a few Mallahan supporters took a very smart double-dip, donating some money and credibility to McGinn as somebody it will be easy to demolish in the election. For one thing, it will be easy for them to spotlight and showcase McGinn’s double-talk. This would hardly be the first time that the establishment turned on the sweet light of reason and made a demagogue look like a fool or liar.

        It will be interesting to see, but I suspect Mallahan will walk all over McGinn. The establishment in Seattle doesn’t lose too many elections.

      4. First of all McGinn essentially had no money, what little he did was all small donations. Mallahan hardly raised any either if you discount the large checks he wrote to himself.

        I doubt any prominent supporters of McGinn or any of the more active volunteers are going to up and support Mallahan.

        The Seattle ‘establishment’ is hardly a monolith to begin with and you can say they already lost an election with Nickels going down to defeat (Nickels was, by far, the ‘establishment’ choice). Furthermore one of the best ways to defeat ‘business as usual’ candidates is with a large army of volunteers.

        I’d also stop freaking out so much over Mallahan. He may be a T-Mobile exec, but he’s hardly John Stanton.

      5. Nickels had twice as much as Mallahan and 7 times as much as McGinn. … Nickels ran a piss-poor campaign.

        Basically Nickels didn’t even campaign. I think his strategy was to save his campaign funds for the general election. He believed he would be facing Mallahan or McGinn and wanted to be able to have the maximum amount available to spend on the “real election”; especially if he had to face Mallahan. This strategy would also let him tailor his position to counter a specific opponent. It appears this has backfired in a three way race where his opponents siphoned off support from both the left and the right. And, as several people have mentioned, many voters who may have supported Nickels believe as the mayor did that the primary was all about choosing who was going to run against him. The irony is that Nickels would likely be able to defeat either McGinn or Mallahan; but maybe not both at the same time!

      6. I’d need to check the disclosure reports but as far as I know Nickels blew through most of his money by spending it on TV ads.

      7. According to the Times:

        His campaign has spent all of the $560,000 it raised as of this week.

        He did throw a bunch into last minute ads (which appear to have backfired) but I don’t think he really ran a campaign over the last several months. Leading up to the election polls were saying Nickels had 40% of the vote. That should have been enough to be the leading candidate and it certainly would assure that you at least are in the top two.

        The campaign budgets don’t tell the whole story. For one they don’t account for PAC money which is the typical method of financing attack ads. I think Nickels still has plenty of untapped resources he can draw on should he miraculously make it through into the November election. If he doesn’t then most of those funds will probably funnel toward Mallahan. I guess the “smart money” was keeping their wallet closed until they knew for sure who the candidate was going to be.

        The interesting question to me is if the choice comes down to Mallahan or McGinn who will Vulcan throw their support behind; the anti tunnel McGinn or the anti Mercer Street Mallahan? My bet is that they try to “do business” with Mallahan ;-)

        One other factor which I think was unexpected is how poorly Jan Drago did. I would have expected her to siphon of a lot of Mallahan supporters. Even a couple percent more would have put Nickels through to the general. On her website:

        I’ve begun down another path to health and fitness. I promised my friends that I would run with them next year in Seattle’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. I registered last night and now I am on my way to buy new running shoes.

        Mmmm, the start of a Senate campaign in 2010? :=

  8. I’m not sure whether my recent participation in this forum means much. I’ll admit my perspective on transit system design and regional planning are unusual, but I don’t believe it’s over the top. Consider this:

    Seattle’s hilly topography is a principle element guiding its transit system design. Case in point: SR-99 access ramps at Columbia and Seneca increase east/west traffic, a terrible situation for motorists made worse. McGinn’s call for changes to I-5 and I-5 access ramps is brilliant because it observes this logic that these ramps likewise encourage too much traffic in the worst way. Therefore, it can be concluded that motorists should access I-5 and SR-99 at north and south edges of downtown, not in the middle of town because of the hills.

    So, what’s to be done? Here’s what I think: East/west transit routes must be frequent and fixed to run between the Waterfront/Pike Place Market area and First Hill, Capitol Hill, South Lake Union. Bringing rapid transit to downtown Seattle must be complemented with convenient transfers to reach these main districts within the urban core. The current ‘Hub-n-Spoke’ transit arrangement is a design failure.

    I’m proposing a ‘grid’ transit system.

    Along that line, a BRT transit corridor could be established on 2nd and 4th Aves to complement the DSTT. 1st and 3rd Aves could have a frequent, fixed route bus line between Lower Queen Anne/Seattle Center and King St.

    Walking around town, bad as it is with reckless, noxious traffic, must be complemented with frequent transit service in order to entice motorists out of their cars. An inner-city grid system as suggested should make downtown transit very convenient and possibly less expensive than the existing system. The activity level should increase and economic activity more than double. Monies now going to parking garage and meter czars will instead go to services and products from many local entreprenuers. Capiche?

  9. What bogles my mind every election cycle (you’d think I’d get used to it by now) is the regrettably low voter turnout. With so many candidates of different stripes advocation very different approaches to government and wildly diverging thoughts on important issues which affect and will continue to affect ALL of us, I can’t understand why so few vote. I made the mistake of saying to a non-voter in casual conversation that, in short, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain”–I know, it’s become a cliche. He retorted, in all seriousness: “I won’t vote and I’ll STILL complain!” Go figure. Then again, perhaps it is ME who is missing something here.

  10. City of Seattle Mayor
    Mike McGinn 27586 26.69%
    James Donaldson 8589 8.31%
    Greg Nickels 26416 25.56%
    Joe Mallahan 28126 27.22%
    Kwame Wyking Garrett 1048 1.01%
    Jan Drago 7691 7.44%
    Elizabeth Campbell 2745 2.66%
    Norman Zadok Sigler 880 0.85%
    Write-in 263 0.25%

    Nickels closes the percentage gap to McGinn but the number of votes increases slightly. Mallahan continues to gain ground. I wonder how many ballots will be “found” on the recount :=

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