by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Ed Murray will take office as the new mayor of Seattle on January 1.
The two-term state senator jumped to a 12-point lead over incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn on election night, and that margin held up over the next two days as additional ballots were counted, frustrating the incumbent's hopes that late voters would swing the election his way. Ballot-counting continued as SGN went to press, with Murray holding a 10-point lead late Thursday.
McGinn conceded defeat at a press conference on November 7.
'Sometimes I rubbed people the wrong way, but I was always trying to do the right thing,' he said. McGinn added he had already phoned Murray to concede.
'I congratulated him on his victory ... and offered our support for the transition,' McGinn said. 'He put together a very strong campaign.'
For his part, Murray said in a subsequent statement that the phone conversation with McGinn was 'substantive and cordial,' and added that he 'thanked the mayor for his service, and told him that he respected his tremendous passion and dedication to the people of Seattle.'
A WINNING STRATEGY
The election was a stunning rejection of a sitting mayor, and proof, if any was needed, that Murray is one of the city's most popular politicians.
It was also proof that the Murray team had a winning campaign strategy - to convince voters that Murray could actually deliver on the progressive promises that McGinn had made but could not always keep in his four years as mayor.
Murray strategist Sandeep Kaushik told SGN in an e-mail that he conceived of the campaign in two parts.
'The first part of it is that while voters liked the mayor's commitment to progressive values, they questioned his effectiveness,' Kaushik wrote. 'Also, his combative approach to governance turned off a lot of the public, and meant that they were willing to consider an alternative.
'But that alternative has to be credible. Voters understand that the job of mayor is a difficult one, and that it requires proven skills and experience. They also want to like their mayor, and want her or him to share their values. So the second part of the equation is that Ed was successful in demonstrating to voters that, like the mayor, he is a strong progressive, but he also has a real track record of major accomplishments, and has the coalition-building skills to be successful.'
Murray was 'successful' in spades.
According to a Survey USA exit poll commissioned by KING 5 News, Murray led the incumbent by double digits on every significant issue.
A whopping 60% of the respondents said Murray would do a better job of managing city government, against only 29% for McGinn. Fifty-seven percent said Murray would be able to help the local economy; only 28% picked McGinn.
On the contentious issue of overseeing the Seattle Police Department - now under a federal consent decree because of excessive use of force against minority communities - 54% expected Murray to do a better job, while only 29% opted for McGinn.
Even on McGinn's signature issues - public transportation and getting the state government to absorb possible cost overruns on the waterfront tunnel project - voters expected Murray to do a better job than the incumbent. According to the poll, Murray had a 20-point lead on 'improving traffic and transportation,' and a 26-point lead on 'convincing the state to pay potential cost overruns on [the] waterfront tunnel.'
Murray was also helped by his legendary prowess as a fundraiser, out-raising his opponent by more than a quarter-million dollars. So-called 'independent expenditure' groups supporting the two candidates, but not connected with their official campaigns, raised roughly equal amounts of money.
LABOR FAVORED MURRAY
While McGinn ran as the champion of lower-wage workers and secured endorsements from the hotel and grocery workers' unions, Murray won 20 union endorsements, including SEIU 775NW, which represents some of the lowest paid workers, home health-care aides.
In a statement, SEIU said that 'we look forward to working with [Murray] as he implements a pro-worker agenda in Seattle,' and praised Murray's legislative record.
'As a senator, Ed stood with workers to fight proposed cuts to state employee health-care benefits, pensions, and workers' compensation,' the union said.
'As Minority Leader, Sen. Murray provided leadership to fund state employee contracts and the first increase in five years for low-wage home care workers, who start at only $10 per hour. He helped win better wages for working people and he's leading the way to help all working people by putting a $15-per-hour minimum wage at the center of his economic platform.'
Seattle City Council President Sally Clark, a Murray supporter, expressed confidence that the mayor-elect would be able to deliver on his promises.
Although she acknowledged McGinn's 'four years of service to our city,' Clark added, 'Senator Murray's arrival signals that Seattle wants a new style of leadership.'
'Our city continues to struggle with issues of public safety and transit, parks and urban planning, economic resiliency, and civil rights,' Clark added. 'I'm looking forward to working with an executive who will help us manage these issues, and this municipality, through the months ahead and years to come.'
City Council member Tom Rasmussen, also a Murray supporter, recalled McGinn's tenure as 'painful.'
'McGinn wanted to debate everything, accomplished very little, and in the end blamed everyone,' Rasmussen told the Seattle Times on election night.
In contrast to his opponent, who often seemed to make a virtue out of his headstrong approach to administration, Murray said he would take a more collaborative approach, but he denied that meant he would be a pushover.
'Collaboration is not a code word for a fluffy approach to administering. It's actually having those tough discussions very early on and trying to get people together on the issue very early on,' Murray said after the election.
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