Mike McGinn, the Face of Tunnel Opposition, Gets Teeth Punched In by Voters

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There was a time when Mayor Mike McGinn would have preached the supposed evils of the Highway 99 tunnel project to a dead man, provided someone taped a King County voter registration ID on his corpse. But last night, as voters overwhelmingly rejected the mayor's obstructionism and the mayor himself with a vote to approve the project, McGinn was nowhere to be found.

And when he finally emerged from whatever hole of self-pity he and his handlers had dug, it was to offer a 27-word statement on what has been the defining issue of his tenure.

"I worked to give the public a direct vote on the tunnel. The public said move ahead with the tunnel, and that's what we're going to do."

That's the statement sent out by McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus last night.

No mention in there about how that "work" involved sending a mayoral staffer to work on the anti-tunnel campaign, encouraging aids to contribute financially to the anti-tunnel effort, and vetoing the tunnel legislation itself in his quest to "give the public a direct vote."

And of course there was no mention about how he'd promised not to oppose the tunnel when he campaigned for mayor, only to immediately break that promise when he got elected.

It should be noted that Seattle voters don't really like the tunnel all that much (only about 35 percent of voters prefer it as the best transit option for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct).

And yet some 60 percent of voters last night voted to approve the project.

When 60 percent of Seattle voters agree on anything, it's worth noting. And when they agree on something that they don't even like that much, it's worth finding out why.

The reason why, of course, is that the one thing Seattlites hate even more than the tunnel is the mayor (see: 23 percent approval rating).

And since McGinn has become the face of tunnel opposition, last night's vote was the public's chance to punch that face.

Of course, at the end of the day, the tunnel project is bigger than the mayor, the city council, the governor, or random activists on both sides. Those folks will be in different roles by the time the first cars descend under the city to make their way through the multi-billion-dollar tube.

The tunnel is about Seattleites themselves--several generations' worth.

And for better or for worse, the damn thing will finally get built.

Whether McGinn will now insist that they build a lane for his Huffy remains to be seen.

But whatever pet-project that the mayor picks next to drag endlessly through the dirt, one can only hope that he finds more than two sentences to say when it finally comes to a head.

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