Seattle Socialist Kshama Sawant Narrowly Leads Recall
Seattle Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant may survive her recall election after all, with the latest ballot count putting her narrowly in the lead by just over 200 votes.
On day three of the ongoing ballot count, Sawant now leads the recall election by just 232 votes with more than 40,000 ballots cast – 50.3 percent “No” versus 49.7 percent “Yes.” The narrow lead comes after Sawant slowly pulled ahead over a three-day period, starting when the “Yes” votes held a commanding lead of 53 percent.
With more than 600 ballots pending signature challenges, the race is still too close to call, according to the Seattle Times. However, journalist Bill Scher noted that “Yes” has a difficult challenge ahead in the unlikely event it pulls out a victory.
So Sawant did a bit better than this estimate after the late arrivals were counted. We’re at:
20183 Yes https://t.co/3WVVnYrNFg
That’s a 232-vote lead, with only 591 ballots w/signature challenges left. “Yes” needs about 70% of those. Not happening. https://t.co/XCCzLpsWTS
— Bill Scher (@billscher) December 10, 2021
High voter turnout in a December local election has made the vote tally more difficult than usual. Political science professor Mark Alan Smith of the University of Washington told Fox 13 that Sawant’s status as a polarizing figure had fueled the turnout beyond normal levels.
Sawant has a history of beating out her opponents after an early loss. In September 2019, for instance, Sawant “challenger Egan Orion led by eight percentage points on election night, only to lose decisively in later returns,” according to Crosscut.
Supporters of Sawant celebrated her lead on Twitter.
The campaign to recall Kshama Sawant got their contribution cap lifted so their backers could donate endless gobs of money AND secured a special election date so that working-class people would be less likely to vote. And they still lost!! Love it
— Meagan Day (@meaganmday) December 10, 2021
❗️ Kshama Sawant has *taken the lead* in Seattle.
The 3rd update to the election count now has the “NO” to the recall ahead by 0.6% (that’s 232 votes). (She trailed by as much in yesterday’s update.)
She’s quite clearly favored to hold on at this point based on what remains.
— Taniel (@Taniel) December 9, 2021
Sawant has championed a number of far-left causes in the city, from $15 minimum wage to defund the police to rent control. During the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) episode of 2020, Sawant said the area should be “permanently” in community control.
“Our movement needs to urgently ensure East Precinct is not handed back to police, but is turned over permanently into community control,” she tweeted. “My office is bringing legislation to convert East Precinct into a community center for restorative justice.”
Our movement needs to urgently ensure East Precinct is not handed back to police, but is turned over permanently into community control.
My office is bringing legislation to convert East Precinct into a community center for restorative justice. https://t.co/YGSOG0MXU3
— Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) June 12, 2020
Opponents of the recall against Sawant characterized the campaign as a racist attack against a fighter for the working class:
The recall campaign has filed three charges against Sawant, which are racist and have to do with her being a pro-working-class activist and not a typical bureaucrat or “pro-boss” politician. The first charge against her is that she led a march to Mayor Durkan’s house, whose address is protected. Other forces led it; she did not.
The second charge is that Sawant threatened public safety by opening City Hall to Black Lives Matter protesters during a pandemic. However, the rally was very COVID-safe. And the final charge is that Sawant allegedly misused public funds to support a ballot initiative named “Tax Amazon.” In fact, this was a small sum, which was spent months before the initiative was even filed.
Despite Kshama Sawant’s likely victory, Seattle made a major shift this past November when the city elected law & order Republican Ann Davison as City Attorney, following the violence that pervaded throughout Seattle during the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots.