Seattle challengers hope for late ballots while leaders are confident in wins

Nov 3, 2021, 10:21 AM
trailing, ballots...
An elections worker loads unopened ballots into a machine for sorting at the King County Elections headquarters in 2020 in Renton, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

There have been no official calls yet for any of the races in the general election, but some local candidates are already declaring victory after the first round of election results Tuesday. Meanwhile, those trailing behind say they’re waiting for more ballots to be counted.

Moderate Seattle candidates carry the night, as progressives face steep climb to close gap

At Bruce Harrell’s election night party in Belltown, there were cheers as the first results popped up on the big screen showing the Seattle mayoral candidate with 65% of early results, compared to his opponent Lorena Gonzalez at 35%.

“I listened to my political consultants, and they don’t see a way for her, a pathway to victory for her, given that significant lead,” Harrell told KIRO 7 TV.

But there’s been no concession from Gonzalez yet, who is urging patience as late ballots roll in.

“Tonight’s results, and the fact that the votes of so many of our voters, who tend to vote at the very end, have not been counted means we may not know until late in the week or next week who the next mayor will be,” Gonzalez said in a statement Tuesday. “We respect every vote as equal regardless as to when it was cast and we will not prejudge the outcome.”

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Nikkita Oliver are also awaiting those late ballots in the races for Seattle city attorney and city council position 9, with each trailing their opponent by about 20% of early results.

“The primary prepared us to have to wait several days for complete results of this election, but I’m as hopeful tonight as I was then,” Thomas-Kennedy wrote in a statement released Tuesday. “I know that when every vote is counted, the people of Seattle will have sent a clear message to the corporate interests that tried to buy this election: our democracy is not for sale.”

Teresa Mosqueda, running for Seattle City Council’s position 8, sent an email Tuesday saying she won reelection against challenger Ken Wilson, who, like Gonzalez, has not yet conceded the race. Mosqueda noted that she’s optimistic about Tuesday’s results, but will be watching as more ballots are counted.

“We knew this was going to be a close election given the frustration many people feel right now coming out of the pandemic, in an economy that isn’t working for all people, and a homelessness crisis that impacts too many,” Mosqueda said. “I feel good about where we are with the early support we received for action on our progressive priorities and the kid of coalition-driven approach I bring to Council. We will definitely be watching as the later ballots are counted.”

In the King County Executive race, 12-year incumbent Dow Constantine is already declaring victory. Only 22% of total ballots have been counted so far, and the race has not been officially called. The statewide total voter turnout is only expected to be about 40%.

Washington officials expect just 40% voter turnout in 2021

On KIRO Nights, host Jack Stine and KIRO Radio’s Charlie Harger discussed the local trend of younger, more progressive ballots that tend to come in later. Harger referred to it as the “Sawant effect,” named after councilmember Kshama Sawant, who made up a large deficit thanks to late votes in past elections.

“You oftentimes will have the more moderate, more centrist candidate take an early lead in the Seattle election. However, at the very end, what happens is people who are younger, who might be more progressive, more liberal, they wait until the very last moments to cast their ballots. Those ballots don’t get counted tonight,” Harger explained.

So while there are candidates with early and seemingly substantial leads after Tuesday’s initial count, it’s not a guarantee that they will be the winner when the election is called.

The next round of election results are expected to drop Wednesday afternoon.

KIRO Nights on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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Seattle challengers hope for late ballots while leaders are confident in wins