He was outspent by hundreds of thousands of dollars and continually polled in third place leading up to election day, but as of today's early (and very incomplete) returns, Mike McGinn leads the mayoral race primary--taking 26.58% of the votes to Joe Mallahan's 25.77 and Greg Nickels' 25.06.
Flanked by his family, McGinn meets the press early Tuesday night.
Interrupting the Otis Redding soundtrack that played most of the night, McGinn took the stage at the Pike St. dance club Havana to deliver his speech (video of which is after the jump). For once, there was no mention of the tunnel--just lots of talk about a low-cash campaign that's relied heavily on volunteers. (As of the latest report, Nickels had spent about $534,000 on the campaign, Mallahan about $310,000, and McGinn about $43,000.) McGinn told the room full of giddy, "We Like Mike"-chanting supporters that every journalist who interviewed him asked him if he was surprised by his lead, and "What I say to them is, "The media has underestimated us, but we never did."
Earlier in the night, in the club's parking lot, he explained in greater detail. Looking at the polls' margins of error and sample sizes, he said, "it was essentially a three-way tie. And we felt like we were picking up momentum."
The primary's winners might not be identified for some time--there are still plenty of ballots to count and the election's scheduled to be certified September 2nd. But McGinn said he'll continue campaigning and the delay won't be a problem. "We're not really running against somebody," he offered, though Greg Nickels might feel that's not the case, as might the proposed deep-bore tunnel, if proposed deep-bore tunnels have feelings. "We're going to talk directly to the voters."
Thus far, McGinn has talked directly to voters (and quite effectively, it seems) about an unpopular, expensive tunnel that's associated with an unpopular incumbent. (To be fair, McGinn has proposals in other areas, like municipal broadband and school reform, but the tunnel vision has prevailed.) It's been a disciplined, effective strategy, executed with the help of devoted volunteers who have been phone-banking and working the web for months. If he advances, it'll be interesting to see if and
how the strategy carries over to the general, where it might be harder to stick so closely to one issue. For at least one night, though, it was all Goliath-slaying volunteers, Otis Redding, and, of course, bicycles.
Below is video of McGinn's speech. Sorry for the few moments when the sound gets muffled. My camera's little, so it's easy to accidentally cover its mic.