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Jason Rantz


Rantz: Kshama Sawant, Lisa Herbold damaged hard in Seattle primary

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant holds a rally ahead of a City Council meeting to discuss the future of The Showbox, June 4, 2019. (City of Seattle)

Early primary results suggest both Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold are wounded incumbents who will face a re-election campaign tougher than either had hoped for.

Full election results from Seattle’s 2019 primary

Sawant, who says she can’t be bought, while relying on big dollar donors from outside the district and state, shows nowhere near breaking 50 percent in early tallies. I expect this will move some, but an incumbent with her kind of name recognition and ground game should get much closer to 50 percent.

The fact that she didn’t suggests her self-serving, drama-prone office may be wearing thin on her district. Her campaign relied heavily on Socialist Alternative volunteers, including ones outside of the district and even state who came in to help.

Sawant’s general election challenger looks to be progressive businessman Egan Orion. You saw Sawant’s campaign attempt to cast Orion as a Republican. I wish he were. He’s not.

He’s just not an unreasonable Socialist who will destroy business — and jobs — for an ideological cause. I expect he’ll see a healthy dose of money to help beat Sawant. She’ll hope to pick up voters from her rival Zachary DeWolf who is just as ideological as she is. But I suspect he got votes that would normally go to Sawant because they are tired of her schtick. They may vote for her but they may not be exceptionally passionate.

Lisa Herbold in West Seattle will likely lose if her opponent Phil Tavel ups his game and does a better job campaigning. There’s no way votes to third place finisher Brendan Kolding shift to Herbold.

Kolding, a former cop, campaigned on cleaning up homeless encampments and actually enforcing the law, two things Herbold does not support. Indeed, she’s repeatedly stalled encampment clean ups by the Navigation Team. She’s been a nightmare on this issue.

Leaders in the primary race for Seattle City Council

This race, too, will see a lot of money spent on both sides. Herbold is vulnerable and she knows it. She’ll almost certainly continue to lie about her record (she recently said she didn’t vote to cut staff to the Navigation Team; this is a blatant lie). She’s desperate and she’ll campaign that way. This one will be interesting to watch.

Both incumbents will spin the results claiming they would have done better if not for big business influence. Don’t buy it. They’d have done better if they had better records and decided to serve their constituents, rather than their ideology. And they’ll be running the general like they’re behind — because they know they’re vulnerable. It won’t be easy to beat them, but it’s very doable.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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