It’s often been written that you don’t win elections without coalitions. Mayor McGinn proved it in 2009 by uniting cycling lefty environmentalist with anti-tunnel types to claim victory. And as the 2013 mayoral primary nears, perhaps an even more unlikely coalition is coming together for the incumbent.
Could Sonics fans and arena supporters help push McGinn through the primary? With King County Elections predicting a 35-percent voter turnout in Seattle, the chances may be better than you think.
“We are getting a lot of Sonics supporters in as volunteers,” says McGinn campaign spokesperson John Wyble. “The mayor’s volunteer phone program is as big as I’ve ever seen. It’s a mix of environmentalists, human service supporters, and Sonics fans. That’s a coalition I haven’t seen before.”
While it’s natural for a campaign spokesperson to paint a rosy picture for their candidate, the expected low voter turnout could give motivated Seattle basketball fans a real voice in the Aug. 6 primary. Of Seattle’s roughly 405,000 voters, 35-percent are actually expected to vote - or roughly 141,000. Given the crowded mayoral field, most political experts predict it will take about 25 percent of the vote to squeak through the primary - meaning the goal for McGinn and every other candidate in the field is about 35,000 votes.
Given this math, it seem reasonable to say a few thousand basketball fans could have a direct impact on the race.
“No, not crazy,” says Wyble when asked about the sanity of such an assertion.
Though it’s impossible to say how many area basketball fans have joined the McGinn camp, there’s no doubt that some have. Of the Sonics fans lining up for McGinn, Sonicsgate producers Adam Brown and Jason Reid are two of the most prominent. Fan favorite Kris “Sonics Guy” Brannon has also been a vocal McGinn supporter, as has Brian Robinson of Arena Solution. Brannon says he and Robinson are preparing to announce an official endorsement of McGinn later this week.
“We’re supporting McGinn, just trying to give him the credit that’s due,” says Brown of the official Sonicsgate endorsement, which has consisted largely of social media efforts on Twitter and Facebook, in addition to utilizing the movie’s email list.
“It’s been an interesting thing. The Sonics [situation] has pulled so many sports fans into the political realm. ... This issue has really taken sports fans and made them a force.”
“McGinn has my 100-percent support,” says Brannon. “I think [Sonics fans] can have a very strong impact [in the primary].”
Of course, the math of a low-turnout primary goes both ways on the issue. While McGinn may benefit from a primary bump thanks to voting Sonics fans, those who don’t support the SoDo arena deal may also be more inspired to cast a ballot, with the obvious choice being Peter Steinbrueck, the only viable candidate in the race who has come out against the arena’s proposed SoDo location.
“[The SoDo arena deal] put too many good family-wage jobs, port shipping operations, and maritime businesses at risk,” Steinbrueck, who was a paid lobbyist for the arena-opposing Port of Seattle before entering the mayoral race, told Seattle Weekly in May.