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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 7, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 23
Murray supporters form campaign group - Organizers say fundraising will be main focus
Section One
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Murray supporters form campaign group - Organizers say fundraising will be main focus

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Openly Gay state senator and Seattle mayoral candidate Ed Murray will get new campaign help from an independent supporters' group calling itself People for Ed Murray.

'Ed Murray is facing tough competition in the primary election for Seattle Mayor, and he has the added challenge of not being able to raise campaign funds during the legislative special session,' the new group said in a statement released June 5.

'Senator Ed Murray has been a leader on issues we care about - including marriage equality, major transportation improvements, and funding for public schools and human services - and has the vision to move Seattle forward. Now, we need his leadership as Mayor of Seattle.'

FUNDRAISING CONSTRAINTS
One of Murray's challenges in running for mayor is that, as a sitting state senator, he is prohibited from raising campaign money while the legislature is in session. Currently, the legislature is in special session, trying to address the state's chronic budget problems, and a second or even a third special session is not out of the question. That means Murray's ability to raise money for the August 6 primary may be seriously impeded.

Enter People for Ed Murray. The group will run a so-called 'independent expenditure campaign,' meaning that it will raise money on its own and spend it promoting Murray's mayoral campaign.

The only catch is that the group may not coordinate with Murray's own campaign organization in any way. The advantage is that the organization can raise unlimited donations.

Candidates may only accept up to $700 per donor in Seattle elections, but that limit does not apply to independent political committees.

WHO'S ON BOARD
The list of People for Ed Murray co-chairs reads like a Who's Who of progressive Seattle politics. It includes former Seattle Mayor Charley Royer; Martha Kongsgaard, president of the Kongsgaard-Goldman Foundation and chair of the Puget Sound Partnership; Aaron Ostrom, executive director of FUSE, the state's largest progressive organization; LGBT activist Marsha Botzer; Thomas Goldstein, founder and former executive director of the Washington Bus; and Josh Friedes, former executive director of Equal Rights Washington.

People for Ed Murray was organized by campaign consultant Dean Nielsen, a veteran of progressive political efforts both in Seattle and nationally.

'When you have a great candidate like Ed, who really needs to be mayor of Seattle, you can't sit by - you really have to help,' Nielsen told SGN.

'Ed is someone I've really admired as a leader, someone who got us through the path to marriage equality. And it's not just that issue. It's across-the-board leadership on progressive issues - transportation, schools, budget issues.'

POLITICAL VETERAN
Nielsen began his career as a political organizer working to elect President Bill Clinton in 1992. He went on to found the Institute for a Democratic Future in 1997 and worked for the late Seattle political guru Blair Butterworth from 1999 through 2001.

From 2004 through 2007 Nielsen was Washington state director for Progressive Majority, an organization that recruits and trains progressive political candidates. He served as that group's national political director from 2007 until 2010.

Asked if he had specific plans for the campaign to elect Murray, Nielsen told SGN that his group plans to 'raise money and see how far we get. We don't really know how much we can do until we see how much money we have to work with.'

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