Seattle voters split down stark political lines in early primary election results

Aug 4, 2021, 5:58 AM | Updated: 10:54 am
Ballots, election day, Seattle primary...
A ballot drop box in Seattle. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

With the first round of primary election results in, Seattle voters put much of their support behind known quantities in the race for mayor, while a sharp political divide has taken shape in other races.

See all local election results

In early returns for the mayoral race, Bruce Harrell and Lorena Gonzalez have carved out comfortable leads over the rest of the field. Harrell served on city council for over a decade before opting not to run for reelection in 2019. Gonzalez currently serves as council president.

Further on down the ballot, few candidates appear to have made headway with voters while campaigning on a message that Seattle needs new leadership. To wit, none of Colleen Echohawk, Jessyn Farrell, or Andrew Grant Houston — all of whom cast themselves as local political outsiders — have garnered more than 9% of votes with roughly 18% of ballots counted.

Seattle City Council

A similar narrative is playing out in Teresa Mosqueda’s bid for reelection to her at-large city council seat, having already gathered 54% of votes. By all appearances, she seems likely to coast into the general election to face either civil engineer Kenneth Wilson or perennial council candidate Kate Martin.

For the other at-large council seat up for grabs, Seattle voters are split down stark ideological lines. On one side, Fremont Brewery co-founder Sara Nelson (42% of votes) has garnered support from older, more conservative (at least by Seattle standards) establishment figures, including former Councilmembers Richard Conlin (on the council from 1998-2013) and Heidi Wills (2000-2003), as well as local real estate CEO Martin Selig and the Seattle Times Editorial Board.

On the other side is local activist and formal mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver (34%), running on a platform to divest the city from the police department, end homeless encampment sweeps, guarantee free mental health care to all Seattle residents, and double down on Green New Deal policies. Oliver has also scored endorsements from prominent local progressives like City Councilmember Tammy Morales, County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, and state Rep. Tarra Simmons, while donors to their campaign include activist and former council candidate Shaun Scott and critical race theory scholar Edwin Lindo.

The 8-point gap between Nelson and Oliver will be one to watch as more votes are counted this week too. In recent Seattle elections, progressive candidates similar to Oliver have frequently seen late surges once ballots turned in later get counted.

Seattle City Attorney

A race that appeared early on to feature 12-year incumbent City Attorney Pete Holmes running unopposed has since morphed into a scenario that could end up with him not even making it to the general election in November.

Holmes (32% of votes so far) sits in a virtual tie with Ann Davison (34%) and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy (32%), both of whom registered to run just before the city’s late-May filing deadline.

Similar to the council race between Nelson and Oliver, the field of candidates for city attorney runs the gamut on the political spectrum.

WA Secretary of State encourages ‘ride along’ with local election officials

The sum total is a three-way battle between Seattle’s existing political establishment in Holmes, a candidate backed by a local PAC that supported several prominent Republican campaigns during the 2020 election cycle in Davison, and Thomas-Kennedy, whose “abolitionist” platform seeks to stop prosecuting low-level misdemeanors, defund the police department, and invest in restorative justice policies.

With less than a fifth of votes tallied, this is shaping up to be the most unsettled — and potentially most consequential — race in Seattle so far during this primary, with a wide range of outcomes depending on who moves on to the general.

MyNorthwest Blog

Seattle City Attorney race...
Nick Bowman

Newly-formed PAC with cast of familiar faces floods money into Seattle City Attorney race

A new PAC has already raised $280,000 in support of Seattle City Attorney candidate Ann Davison, with a cast of familiar faces working behind the scenes.
5 days ago
Seattle endorsements...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle election preview: Mayoral, city attorney candidates make their case

With Election Day just around the corner, we spoke to the Seattle mayoral and city attorney candidates for insight into each of their respective campaigns.
6 days ago
mayoral debates, seattle, mayor...
MyNorthwest Staff

Submit your questions for the Seattle Mayoral Debate

Lorena Gonzalez and Bruce Harrell will face off in two debates on Oct. 14 and Oct. What questions do you have for the candidates?
11 days ago
Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell...
Nick Bowman

Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell: City needs ‘sense of urgency’ to address homeless crisis

Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell lays out his plan to address Seattle's homeless crisis amid a hotly-contested election cycle.
12 days ago
Seattle City Council races...
Nick Bowman

Narratives for pair of Seattle council races paint dramatically different pictures

With election day less than a month away, the predominant narratives for both of Seattle's at-large council races are significantly different.
14 days ago
Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez...
Nick Bowman

Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez lays out plans for policing, homelessness, and income tax

Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez believes her more recent service in the city council gives her a leg up against her opponent, Bruce Harrell.
18 days ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Seattle voters split down stark political lines in early primary election results