Ballots for the August primary are in the mail with just weeks to go until election day, and the endorsements are out— from the Seattle Times to The Stranger.
How impactful those endorsements will be on election day is anyone’s guess, but The Stranger has arguably held sway in the past, from its backing of Mike McGinn in 2009 to Kshama Sawant in 2013.
The Stranger acknowledges it's “biased,” having given her a past Genius Award for her waterfront work. She's also been a contributor to the paper on the topic of affordability. Moon’s mayoral platform on housing was cited as one of the reasons she earned today's nod.
“I think it puts her on a higher level of awareness for voters,” said political analyst Marco Lowe.
“The challenge for The Stranger endorsement today is that 10 years ago when they were almost picking who was going to be mayor, it's now a situation where these younger voters are getting more information from social media and other sources that give them more ways to think about, is it Cary Moon; is it Nikkita Oliver? There's a real set of progressive candidates for them to choose from,” Lowe continued.
In fact, attorney and organizer Oliver split The Stranger editorial board. She received her own dissent article and also got the Seattle Weekly endorsement Wednesday, which comes on the heels of her win Tuesday night at “Candidate Survivor,” hosted by the Washington Bus.
While all six front-runners consider themselves strong progressives, former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan emerged as the establishment candidate early on in the race, endorsed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber's political action committee, as well as the Seattle Times. She also received an endorsement this week from one of the most powerful labor unions in Washington, SEIU 775.
“If you're endorsed by the Seattle Times, it comes with a little bit of a stigma of you're the establishment candidate, where there is no downside from a Stranger endorsement,” said former mayoral candidate Joe Mallahan.
Mallahan was considered the establishment candidate in 2009 when he ran against Mike McGinn; McGinn that year won over The Stranger, earning a spot on their coveted cover.
“I definitely think The Stranger's endorsement of Mike McGinn was very, very impactful,” said Mallahan.
Even if The Stranger said not so nice things about Mallahan during election cycle, the former candidate says he has "huge respect" for the paper and recognizes its influence, locally.
“The Stranger is kind of viewed as the left, but a Stranger endorsement gives you credibility across the spectrum, because I think the business community, the establishment if you will, they respect Stranger journalism.”
However, in the race that keeps everyone guessing, no one can predict whether the pre-primary endorsement will have true sway.
“From 2000 to 2009, I think they were almost naming who was going to win; this election will be an interesting test of their influence,” said Lowe.
Both Lowe and Mallahan said, endorsements and media aside, good old fashioned retail politics is what’s truly going to move the needle in the run-up to August 1.
“At this point in the campaign, the candidates should be on the streets. Everything is retail at this point. The more people who meet you and have a chance to interact with you, the better,” said Mallahan. “That means being in the coffee shops, on sidewalks, at community events, talking to the voters.”
King County Elections sent ballots in the mail Wednesday; they should be arriving to voters on Thursday and Friday.
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