Greg Nickels Makes It Official: He's in the Race for Secretary of State

Doomed in large measure to his lackluster response to a winter snowstorm, Greg Nickels got the boot three years ago when he couldn't survive a primary challenge in seeking a third term as Seattle mayor. Today he announced he's out of the wilderness and back in the game he so sorely missed. He's running for Secretary of State.

Nickels has been flirting with the idea of re-entering the political arena for weeks, saying public life is his passion and that he wanted again to make a contribution to his city and state.

"We need a Secretary of State not only working with counties to improve election oversight and participation, but a strong voice for transparency on how campaigns are financed, and keeping the voice of citizens in the initiative process," Nickels said in a news release.

The 56-year-old Democrat says he wants to continue the tradition of nonpartisan administration of the state's election laws that Sam Reed, the current officeholder, has established. Reed, a Republican, is retiring at the end of his current term.

Other candidates vying for the job include state Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup and state Rep. Zach Hudgins, D-Tukwila.

Nickels' bid for the office is fraught with a number of downsides, as the winds of history are not at his back. First, the office has been held by Republicans for decades, most of them rising from the ranks of county auditor; and second, no mayor of Seattle has ever gone on to win a statewide race.

Also, Nickels didn't exactly exit the political stage to cheering crowds. His popularity began to nosedive in July 2008, when the Seattle SuperSonics NBA franchise relocated to Oklahoma City, after a lawsuit against the team's ownership group was settled out of court. The Nickels administration, as well as state lawmakers, was blamed by many Seattle sports fans for not doing enough to keep the team here.

Then came that nasty snowstorm in December 2008, when Nickels came under fire from many residents for going along with the city's policy of not using salt for snow removal due to potential environmental concerns. For nearly two weeks, the city's transportation systems were paralyzed, and residents were left stranded on unplowed streets and angry with the mayor's initial lack of contrition.

Still, hopes spring eternal. Welcome back, Greg.

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