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Challengers for Seattle council seat remain scarce with clock ticking on filing deadline

Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. (Seattle City Council)

Races to replace Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez have attracted numerous candidates, who’ve all already brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. But for the city’s other at-large council seat, occupied by incumbent Teresa Mosqueda, large-scale opposition has yet to materialize.

These candidates are pulling in the most money in the race for Seattle mayor

Seattle council races featuring incumbents don’t often attract the same level of competition as campaigns for open seats. Even by that standard, Mosqueda’s run for reelection has operated in stark contrast to what we saw during the last major council election.

In total, there are four candidates running against Mosqueda this year. One, local activist Kate Martin, has raised just over $2,300 in contributions. Two have yet to raise a single dollar, while another, Paul Glumaz, has received two contributions totaling $198. While Glumaz and Martin both signed pledges to participate in the city’s Democracy Voucher program, neither one has gathered enough signatures to qualify.

On top of all that, Martin is registered to run for both mayor and city council, and will likely have to choose between the two by the city’s May 14-17 filing deadline. She also ran for city council in 2019, placing fifth in the District 6 primary with just 3.4% of the vote.

2019 was a different story, as an election cycle that saw seven of nine council seats up for grabs. Three of those seats featured councilmembers running for reelection: District 1 (Lisa Herbold), District 3 (Kshama Sawant), and District 5 (Debora Juarez).

While all three incumbents eventually won, they still faced challengers who amassed sizable campaign war chests. In District 1, Herbold’s two main opponents raised nearly $75,000 and over $192,000, respectively. In District 3, five challengers raised over $85,000, with Sawant’s general election opponent Egan Orion pulling in over $403,000. Even in District 5 — where Juarez garnered the largest margin of victory of any incumbent — two challengers raised over $59,000.

Fast forward to 2021, and the race against at-large Councilmember Mosqueda still has yet to take shape. Early drama saw South Lake Union neighborhood activist Mike McQuaid drop out in the nascent days of a short-lived campaign, after reports surfaced of assault and harassment charges he faced in 2015, separate assault charges in 1997, and his dismissal from a job at Business Wire stemming from allegedly telling a female coworker he was “not going to let a woman tell me how to run my business” when she asked him to shut his office door.

Three candidates lead early race for open Seattle council seat

Since McQuaid’s withdrawal, the race for Mosqueda’s seat has proceeded without much fanfare, all while the incumbent has raised almost $120,000 as of April 19. The next highest-raising candidate is Martin.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for additional challengers to surface, with just three weeks left before the city’s filing window slams shut for aspiring candidates. Whether a new challenger surfaces will likely be the difference between Mosqueda coasting to reelection and facing a battle for her seat on the dais.

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