Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Say "Hello" to Mayor (elect) McGinn

"Pizza: The Taste of McGinn's Victory" (Dominic Holden-SLOG):
Mayor-elect Mike McGinn is spending his victory night the same way he spent many nights of his campaign: at his Southeast Seattle campaign headquarters in a room full of volunteers, surrounded by phones and empty pizza boxes. “It looks like a phone bank night,” McGinn says.
McGinn credits his victory with his now legend staff of volunteers, several of whom he plans to hire as his new mayoral staff. “I would be foolish not to take advantage of some of the talented people who we found during the campaign,” he says. “We will also have to bring people with skills and experience that the campaign staff don’t have. It will be a mix of both.”

He faces challenges, however, establishing relationships with the individuals and institutions that historically have held leverage over the mayor’s office. Many key power brokers in Seattle—such as labor unions, veteran politicos, and the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, whose former chair, Tayloe Washburn, actually joined Mallahan’s campaign—made their opposition to McGinn clear by pledging their allegiance and money to Mallahan. But McGinn seems undaunted by potential friction.

“I know that the folks who supported Mallahan had legitimate concerns about the direction the city would go,” he says, “and we are going to reach out to them, hear their concerns, and involve them in decision making.”

“Campaigns are different than building coalitions for government … when the passion of a campaign ends, there is the opportunity for people who care about the city to work together to solve problems,” says McGinn, extending a veritable olive branch. “The opportunity will bet there for everyone to participate.”

McGinn has already started mapping his transition from a neighborhood activist in Greenwood to the city’s most powerful politician at City Hall. Yesterday morning, he had breakfast with Ron Sims, the former King County Executive—and current Deputy Secretary of HUD in the Obama Administration—to discuss “tips on effective transition and the challenges ahead of us,” McGinn says. They discussed regional government planning, McGinn said, but he wouldn't share the details of their conversation.

Among McGinn's ambitions before taking office is influencing Mayor Greg Nickels's search for a new police chief (a political football in the campaign). McGinn says he wants to look at the selection committee to “see if I have any suggestions for who else might be involved,” he says. “I have an interest getting it started as soon as possible.”

McGinn hasn’t named members of his transition team yet, but, he says, “We are talking to poeple who have been involved in campaigns and city government."

"Mallahan not the only loser; power structure defeated, too" (Chris Grygiel-Strange Bedfellows):
That noise you heard Monday night in Seattle was the collective wailing of the city's big shots as they came to grips with the fact that Mike McGinn will be the next mayor.

They are on the outside looking in. They backed the wrong guy.

Politics is built around IOUs and McGinn's debt is to his corps of volunteers, not to the business, labor and political elite that supported his opponent, Joe Mallahan.
But if McGinn is savvy he'll reach out to the defeated camp. Collectively the City Council, the Legislature, the Downtown Seattle Association and the unions can keep McGinn from accomplishing his goals. By being magnanimous in victory he'll do more to advance his cause.

The same advice holds true for those who bet on Mallahan and lost. If they continue to brush off McGinn they'll get crosswise with a guy who's shown an impressive ability to tap into a populist streak in Seattle many thought was dead. In the court of public opinion McGinn will win more often than not.

So how did the high and mighty find themselves in this position?

Greg Nickels, the two-term incumbent McGinn and Mallahan ousted in the August primary, had cobbled together an uneasy alliance of downtown business interests and labor unions during his eight years in office. It was those powerful groups' support of Nickels that scared prominent names from challenging him earlier this year, which gave first-time candidates McGinn and Mallahan their chance.

When Nickels lost, business and labor slowly coalesced behind Mallahan, the T-Mobile vice president. They were joined by city and state politicians. This was a marriage of convenience. The unions, business people and pols weren't so much supporting Mallahan as they were opposing McGinn, the attorney and environmentalist who made stopping the tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct the centerpiece of his campaign.

Mallahan's kitchen cabinet got so big they could've used an Army mess hall to hold meetings. Everybody wanted something - they certainly wanted him to move forward with the viaduct tunnel and hoped he'd continue Nickels' business-friendly policies. And they were counting on continued access to City Hall's top floor.

The political establishment - from Gov. Chris Gregoire down to the City Council - feared that McGinn would blow up the viaduct tunnel deal they'd worked so hard to secure. And after Nickels, who they found brusque and difficult to work with, they hoped for a jollier Jet City mayor.

On Monday night the establishment offered their congratulations. City Council President Richard Conlin said in a statement he was "very optimistic about the partnership we have the opportunity to create between the council and the incoming Mayor." Gregoire, too, sent brief (emphasis on brief) kind words.
Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, a big proponent of the viaduct tunnel, said in an interview that "the central priority for a lot of folks is to build the relationship between Seattle, King County, our region and our state. It's time to move forward. We have to not get consumed by just the tunnel issue or one issue. Everybody has to come to the table."

As of Monday, there's new person who has a prominent seat.
Howie P.S.: Chris Grygiel looks back over the campaign for Seattle mayor and selects this moment as "the most significant showdown":
McGinn and Mallahan debated on KING5. McGinn addressed his viaduct tunnel position change directly and seemed to catch Mallahan off guard, making the issue about cost overruns on the project and whether Seattle would have to pay for them. McGinn's aggressive performance that night was viewed as superior to Mallahan's showing.

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