‘The one politician you can’t count out’: Can Kshama Sawant fend off recall challenge?

Dec 6, 2021, 8:09 AM | Updated: 12:18 pm
Kshama Sawant recall...
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant faces what looks to be a tight recall race, with ballots due at 8 p.m. Tuesday. So, what’s the likelihood she retains her seat?

KIRO Nights host Jack Stine and guest Matt Markovich believe it could come down to the wire.

Strong turnout for Sawant recall vote ahead of Tuesday deadline for District 3 ballots

As Markovich points out, Sawant has won three straight elections to city council, the most recent of which saw her overcome an eight-point election night deficit. While a December recall likely represents her toughest election challenge to date, it’s also difficult to entirely rule out the possibility that she ekes out a win.

“She is the one politician in the state of Washington that you can’t count out at all,” Markovich noted. “She just has that ability with her people to rally them at the last moment and pull something out.”

That said, he also points out that this is “her biggest hill to climb” since she took office, describing how it will likely be less about the allegations laid out in the recall and more about her status as a controversial political player.

“There are specific allegations, but whether or not people are voting based on those allegations, … I don’t think that’s the real issue here — it’s really about her politics,” Markovich theorized.

As for what those exact politics are, Jack believes there’s something of a misconception that’s been floating around for years.

“I think that people are wrong to refer to Kshama Sawant as a ‘radical socialist,'” Jack posited. “I have read all of her policy prescriptions for X, Y, or Z, and it’s pretty run-of-the-mill socialism.”

“She is the definition of a socialist, beat by beat, all the way down,” he continued. “She doesn’t like private property, believes in the democratization of the workforce, believes in public funding for X, Y, and Z initiatives. And I think it’s a misnomer to put ‘radical’ on it, because a radical socialist, I think, would be someone who’s talking about, ‘well, we need to dismantle downtown and replace it all with teepees,’ that would be a radical socialist.”

Kshama Sawant recall could see District 3 voters buried in ballots over next two years

That’s largely what’s driven Sawant’s support in District 3, Jack says, and if she defeats this recall, it could be what puts her over the top.

“There are enough people out there who are willing to say, ‘Yeah, I have socialist leanings, and this is the kind of stuff I’m on board for,'” he said. “I think that’s how she keeps moving through this and defeating all of this stuff. Every time she runs, she wins, and it’s because there are enough people out there who are on board with that run-of-the-mill socialist message, in my assessment.”

Listen to KIRO Nights weeknights from 7 – 10 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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‘The one politician you can’t count out’: Can Kshama Sawant fend off recall challenge?