Election Night '09: Pete Holmes Revels in Stunner Lead

Did I just win?

Party: Pete Holmes, Nick Licata and David Bloom

Location: Seattle Glassblowing Studio

Mood: Dazed happiness

Drink of Choice: Air

A scream signaled the result that stunned the room. Pete Holmes' communication director Kathy Mulady let out the piercing cry when she learned the news that not only was would-be City Attorney Holmes ahead of two-term incumbent Tom Carr, but he had an almost certainly decisive lead, with more than 61 percent of the vote.

An avalanche of hugs and high-fives followed. Holmes, in the middle of the crush, seemed looser than he had all campaign season, during which time the genteel but steely former bankruptcy attorney sparred fiercely with his opponent in a race that seemed personal. "Sixty-one percent, that's going to be insurmountable," he said happily.

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Progressives forever!
"Unfucking believable!" said a supporter clad in a black jacket, expressing the general sentiment before wandering off in a daze.

Asked what he would immediately change if he did indeed take office, Holmes declared, "We will stop prosecuting marijuana charges." But he put the brakes on another idea he had floated during the campaign: taking advocates for domestic violence victims out of the City Attorney's office and making them independent. "We're not going to do any radical change before talking to people like Merril Cousin [executive director of the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence]," he said.

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Who needs booze when you have art?
His commanding lead buoyed a crowd that needed few drinks to celebrate. Beer and wine was available, but few partook. Perhaps it was the space--not a bar or restaurant but a glass blowing studio, with fanciful creations all over the walls and ceilings, and several artisans pulling molten goo out of the oven even as election results flashed across the TV screen. The abstinence was ironic because the crowd included nightclub owners who had come out strongly for Holmes and against what they considered Carr's Puritanical approach toward drinking, as evidenced by his crackdown on clubs known as Operation Sobering Thought. Attendants included Quentin Ertel, owner of the Capitol Hill club Havana, and Marcus Charles, proprietor of Belltown's Juju and and an investor in the Crocodile. Maybe they went off later to down a few.

The word "progressive" popped up in conversations a lot. The party was not just for Holmes but what you might call the progressive ticket: Holmes, City Councilmember Nick Licata (who encouraged Holmes to run) and City Council hopeful David Bloom. Licata was outspent by opponent Jessie Israel, a King County Parks department manager who went into deep negative territory with a hit mailer that called the lefty incumbent "obstructionist." Licata labeled the move "desperation" due to her low numbers in the primary. Although he declared himself "a little nervous" at the start of the evening, he was smiling broadly by the end, when early returns showed him with 58 percent of the vote.

Not so happy
The only sour note at the party came from David Bloom, who garnered only 31 percent of the vote in early returns. Standing outside in the cold, the homeless activist and retired minister said it was no surprise that opponent Sally Bagshaw beat the pants off him, given that she raised $224,000 to his $93,000. "The downtown establishment has gotten its candidate," he said. "They paid for this election."
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