The political spectrum, Seattle style


There was a time when drama, passion and resentment were words that would not have been associated with Seattle City Council campaigns. Municipal elections were a relatively polished affair among candidates cut largely from the same cloth; serious and civic centrists loving process and consensus.

It’s a little different in 2019. There’s a lot of heat, a lot of talk about radical change, a lot of distrust of those who prioritize compromise over confrontation. And there’s a deluge of campaign money pouring in from special interests – unions, businesses and, most importantly, Amazon. The money is new, and it intensified the debate by drawing a sharper line between the candidates in the board’s seven districts. On the one hand, contenders supported by the Chamber of Commerce; on the other, the controversial incumbents and the protesting newcomers.

The distinction, however, may be less than it appears. The political spectrum in Seattle is narrow, stretching the short distance between Liberal Democrats and Social Democrats. The election can make changes one way or the other, but Seattle is not about to become either Dallas or Havana.

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