If the Sawant-haters think their anybody-but-Sawant standard bearer can sweep the socialist from office by substantially outspending her, they have another think coming. Just weeks before the primary, Sawant has already raised nearly $200,000; across all the council races, only biz-favorite Tim Burgess has raised more. Sawant is also blowing the rest of the pack away with her sheer number of donations, 1,590, over 600 more than the next closest candidate.
But Sawant and her supporters shouldn’t get over-confidant about their convention-defying performance in the money game. Because our airwaves, Internet, and mailboxes could soon be crowded out by big league professionals from the unregulated sport of independent expenditures.
Take for example the race for Council District 5, where a crowded field of qualified candidates including Sandy Brown, Debora Juarez, and Halei Watkins have closely competed for cash and endorsements. Then, out of nowhere, the National Association of Realtors suddenly dumps $48,000 into an independent expenditure on behalf of little-known also-ran Kris Lethin.
Um… Kris who?
Lethin said he has basically no campaign staff or apparatus. “Even my brochure was made by a buddy and me over a weekend,” he said. He described his website as “rookie.” I’m almost embarrassed,” he said. “The other guys have got such fancy stuff going.”
Lethin said he believes his opposition to rent control and linkage fees may have helped win the realtors’ support.
So if the Realtors are willing to flush $48,000 down the drain of a hopeless no-name, just because he’s the most vocal opponent of rent control and linkage fees, how much money do you think they’re ready to put into defeating these policies’ most vocal proponent, Kshama Sawant?
District elections were supposed to help take money out of politics by enabling candidates to focus on doorbelling and community organizing and other forms of direct grassroots voter outreach. But when you count the IEs, District 3 could very well end up being the most expensive race in city council history.
Sawant has proven herself an incorruptible champion of working-class Seattleites, earning her near unanimous support from union locals. No doubt these unions will come to her defense. But Big Business simply has a shit-ton more money than Big Labor. All the more reason why Kshama needs your relentless support.