Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Nervous Seattle power structure backs Mallahan" (Updated)

UPDATE: "Mallahan announces kitchen cabinet; nabs Nickels fundraiser" (Politics Northwest-Seattle Times).

Chris Grygiel (Strange Bedfellows):
There's an old saying that goes something like this: If you're going to plot against the king, you'd better succeed.

In the unsettled kingdom that post-Greg Nickels Seattle has become, that saying has been turned upside down. Playing the part of the king are the powerful interests lining up behind Joe Mallahan. Mike McGinn is the challenger to the throne, but he's the figure everyone seems to be out to get.

After Mallahan and McGinn defeated Nickels in last month's primary everybody waited to see where Nickels' supporters would go. Some figured Mallahan, the T-Mobile executive, would get the blessing of the city's business community and the environmentalist McGinn might get some labor support because the unions opposed Mallahan in the primary.

But Mallahan got the business and labor endorsements. On Tuesday, he announced an advisory panel that includes a Seattle port commissioner, a state lawmaker and leaders from labor, business, neighborhood and other community groups. Seattle's power structure is supporting Mallahan because they are terrified of McGinn and his opposition to the tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

McGinn says the $4.2 billion project - and Seattle's $930 million share of the bill - is too expensive and not the right direction for the city to go. Mallahan says the decision has been made and the time for "Seattle style" dithering has passed. Business and labor leaders fear that blowing up the tunnel replacement plan will cost the city momentum, jobs and what little sway it has in a state Legislature that needs few reasons to ignore Seattle.

Nickels spent all his political capital making the viaduct tunnel a reality. Nickels' allies now back Mallahan. In one of those lovely twists of political fate, Mallahan - who attacked Nickels hard during the primary - is essentially running to continue Nickels' policies, albeit with more of a "corporate management" mindset.
That brings us back to McGinn, who has run an effective insurgent campaign with very little money. If the business and labor crowd currently plotting against him fails, and McGinn is elected mayor, they should be afraid. Because he won't owe them anything.

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