Nickels running third; bag fee rejected
Early results show the incumbent Seattle mayor with 25.05 percent of the vote — running in a virtual three-way tie with Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan. Susan Hutchison and Dow Constantine lead in the race for King County executive.
Seattle Times staff
Mike McGinn, a Sierra Club leader and attorney who strongly opposes replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel, is the surprise leader, followed by T-Mobile executive Joe Mallahan.
King County election officials had counted 182,108 ballots in the county's second all-mail election — half the expected total vote.
McGinn, Mallahan and Nickels were separated by fewer than 1,000 votes.
Jan Drago, who quit the Seattle City Council to run for mayor, trailed far behind with less than 8 percent of the vote.
"I think we knew going in that the public wanted change," McGinn said outside a raucous election party. "We went to talk to the people of Seattle about the kind of future they wanted, and I think our message kind of resonated."
On the Politics Northwest blog, Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner reported that Nickels, speaking to a somber crowd of supporters at a union hall, called the race "too close to call."
"It's going to be a nervous couple of days," Nickels said later in an interview. "I have always said I'd rather be a good mayor who got things done than a popular politician who got high numbers."
King County elections officials expect to release results of another 45,000 ballots at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Ballots postmarked Tuesday most likely will be tallied on Thursday and Friday, after election workers verify voters' signatures and check for other problems.
In the race to replace Ron Sims as King County executive, former TV newscaster Susan Hutchison and Metropolitan King County Councilmember Dow Constantine will face each other in the Nov. 3 general election.
Hutchison led a crowded field with more than 37 percent of tonight's count of mail ballots, followed by Constantine with 22 percent. Constantine led his nearest rival, state Sen. Fred Jarrett, by more than 10 percentage points. County Councilmember Larry Phillips and state Rep. Ross Hunter were close behind Jarrett.
"Now voters have a clear choice between the old way and the new," Hutchison told supporters at the Edgewater Hotel. "The old is divisive partisanship, bully politics, irresponsible spending and arrogant county leadership that lost touch with people."
Constantine, a former state legislator who gained strong support from labor unions and environmentalists, said shortly before addressing supporters at Kell's on Post Alley, "I'm the one whose values are consistent with the voters of King County. I'm the one with the experience to bring the government through this period of transition and create real reform."
Voters have firmly rejected Referendum 1, which would have made Seattle the first city in the nation to levy a fee on both plastic and paper shopping bags.
The defeat — 58 percent to 42 percent — means an ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council last year will not take effect. Had it passed, grocery, convenience and drugstores would have begun charging shoppers 20 cents for each paper or plastic bag they are provided at checkout counters.
Supporters of the charge pinned the loss on a heavily funded opponent that outspent them 15-to-1, but they said the campaign had built a grassroots foundation for future efforts.
"Big money can come in and run deceptive scare campaigns, but in the end, people who care will defeat the people who scare," said Green Bag Campaign spokesman Brady Montz.
There will be at least two new faces on the Seattle City Council this year — and Sally Bagshaw and Mike O'Brien were each comfortably leading in primary races to fill the open seats.
Tonight's results show Bagshaw with more than twice as many votes as her closest competitor, David Bloom, in the race for council position 4. O'Brien likewise has nearly twice as many votes as his closest competitor, Robert Rosencrantz, in the race for Position 8. The top two vote-getters from each race will face off in the November election.
In the third council race, three-term incumbent Nick Licata appears to be facing down his first serious re-election challenge from Jessie Israel. Both will advance to November.
Bagshaw, 58, is the former head of the King County Prosecutor's Office Civil Division and a two-term member of the Lake Forest Park City Council.
Bloom, 67, is a housing advocate and deputy director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle.
O'Brien, 41, is a former head of the local Sierra Club chapter who stepped down to campaign fulltime. He's also an opponent of the deep-bore tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, just like Mike McGinn, who was leading the race for mayor.
In primaries for two open Port of Seattle Commission seats, David Doud and Rob Holland will advance to the November election for Position 3, while Tom Albro led Max Vekich and Robert Walker in the race for Position 4.
If early results hold, each of the contests could shape up as a labor-business confrontation.Holland and Vekich are backed by an independent-expenditure campaign called King County Citizens for Port Reform, which has collected $100,000 from unions, led by the Teamsters and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Holland is a diesel-fuel salesman, and Vekich is a marine-cargo clerk.
Albro and Doud have received significant contributions from businesses connected to the Port, such as cargo-terminal operators and cruise-ship companies. Albro owns two businesses, including the company that runs the Seattle Monorail. Doud is a real-estate broker.
Walker, running a close third behind Albro and Vekich, is a software engineer at Microsoft who ran unsuccessfully for a Port seat in 2005. He has refused to take campaign contributions.
Commissioner John Creighton is up for re-election but is unopposed.
In Seattle School Board races, incumbent Mary Bass and rival Kay Smith-Blum appear to be in a showdown for the District 5 seat.
Bass and Smith-Blum each have nearly 40 percent of the votes counted so far. Bass is seeking a third term, while it is Smith-Blum's first run for the board.
Research scientist Wilson Chin and educator Betty Patu will go on to the general election for the school board's District 7 seat.
Patu and Chin each received more than 40 percent of the votes counted.
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