Bruce Harrell leading M. Lorena González in Seattle mayoral race

<p><p>Bruce Harrell held a strong lead of almost 30 percentage points over M. Lorena González in Seattle’s mayoral election Tuesday night. Harrell had 65% of the votes that had been tallied in the highly-anticipated head-to-head matchup between familiar figures.</p></p><p><p>The gap between Harrell, a moderate former City Council president, and González, a progressive currently serving as council president, could change as more votes – as many as half the expected total, according to election officials – are counted in the coming days.</p></p><p><p>In Seattle races, ballots that arrive and are tallied later tend to favor left-leaning candidates. In their crowded Aug. 3 primary, Harrell’s 9- point lead over González on election night narrowed to less than 2 points by the time all of the votes were tabulated.</p></p><p><p>Harrell, 63, a business-backed attorney raised by city workers in the Central District, based his campaign on a promise to keep parks and sidewalks clear of homeless encampments. He vowed to push for more police officers and more unarmed first-responders, criticizing González’s previous support for “defunding the police” to fund other services.</p></p><p><p>The Seward Park resident would be the first Asian American mayor and second Black mayor in Seattle’s history. He cast himself as a consensus builder, cited his hometown roots and drew on decades-old connections on the campaign trail.</p></p><p><p>González, 44, a labor-supported attorney raised by migrant farmworkers in Central Washington, focused her campaign on a willingness to tax big businesses and wealthy people to pay for affordable housing and other social needs. She warned Harrell would bow to corporate interests and perpetuate punitive, ineffective approaches to public safety.</p></p><p><p>The West Seattle resident would be the city’s first Latina mayor. She billed herself as a champion for workers, recalled earning her first paycheck picking cherries as a child and said she would fight for marginalized people.</p></p><p><p>González argued Seattle should open up all neighborhoods to people with less wealth by allowing multifamily housing to be constructed on blocks across the city. Harrell opposed the elimination of zoning that currently reserves most residential blocks for detached houses, arguing the city should continue mostly concentrating apartments along major streets.</p></p><p><p>The rivals, who served together on the council from 2015 to 2019, are competing for an open job because current Mayor Jenny Durkan, after a tumultuous 2020 that included COVID-19, mass protests against racial injustice and an increase in gun violence, announced last December she wouldn’t seek reelection.</p></p><p><p>Harrell’s campaign raised more than $1.3 million, while González’s campaign raised almost $980,000, according to Washington State Public Disclosure Commission records Monday.</p></p><p><p>Both used Seattle’s unique “democracy vouchers” program, which allows each qualifying resident to donate $100 in public money to candidates that abide by the program’s rules. Redeemed vouchers represented about 43% of Harrell’s haul and about 66% for González.</p></p><p><p>A pro-Harrell political-action committee funded by real estate executives and companies, plus other individuals and business interests, reported more than $1 million in independent spending on advertisements for Harrell and against González. PACs associated with the National Association of Realtors and the union that represents Seattle firefighters also spent to boost Harrell.</p></p><p><p>A pro-González political-action committee funded by unions that represent hotel, supermarket, health care and custodial workers reported nearly $1 million in independent spending on ads for González and against Harrell.</p></p><p><p>The pro-González PAC sponsored a television commercial that sought to make a connection between Harrell and former President Donald Trump, via a donor. The ad highlighted support for Harrell by a real estate executive who also contributed to PACs associated with Trump.</p></p><p><p>Meanwhile, the pro-Harrell PAC sponsored a TV commercial telling voters González would leave tents in parks and would try to defund the police.</p></p><p><p>Three polls in September and October showed Harrell leading González, by various margins.</p></p><p><p>Harrell caused a stir in early October when he posed for photos without a mask on and mingled in a large crowd at a fundraiser. Tensions in the race peaked in late October, when the González campaign sponsored ads accusing Harrell of “siding with abusers” noting Harrell didn’t join González in 2017 when she called for then-Mayor Ed Murray to consider resigning amid allegations Murray had abused multiple teenagers decades earlier.</p></p><p><p>The ad featured a white rape survivor not connected to the Murray allegations. A number of Harrell supporters and Black political and civic leaders denounced the ad as desperate and racist for reinforcing tropes about dangerous Black men. González pulled the ad from TV and apologized for who the campaign featured while standing by her criticism of Harrell.</p></p>