With early returns indicating the possibility of a loss, Mayor Greg Nickels strode to the podium inside the UFCW's local monument to collective bargaining in Georgetown and did what any sensible two-term incumbent would do in his situation: he stayed on message.
"Tomorrow is when the real campaign begins" he said, and then proceeded directly into stump speech, playing up his experience, his opponents' alleged lack thereof, and his accomplishments., i.e. light rail, a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and, again, light rail.With an estimated 60,000 votes left to come in, Nickels trails both McGinn, the anti-tunnel candidate whose comparatively lean campaign has secured him a slight lead, and Mallahan, a moneyed candidate whose only qualification for the job is, arguably, that his name is not Nickels.
Surrounded by throes of optimistic, if also slightly disappointed supporters, at last night's election party, Nickels offered that that the reason he's being punished by voters (at least at this very early stage in the tabulations) is general frustration with the economy, and by extension their elected leaders. To boil it down to a word: voters, he says, are "grumpy."
The last time Seattleites were grumpy during a mayoral primary election, the guy in the chair got ousted. Back in 2001, Nickels and then-City Attorney Mark Sidran combined to prevent Mayor Paul Schell from moving on to the general election. Like his boss, Nickels' campaign spokesman, Sandeep Kaushik, didn't make any sudden moves. Pausing between phone interviews, he deflected suggestions of a parallel between the two elections. A more appropriate analogy, he explained, is the general election of 2001, when eight days passed between the closing of the polls and when Nickels was announced the winner. "We're confident that the mayor will move forward," he added, and then disappeared back into the campaign war room.