Socialist Seattle candidates appear on brink of defeat following Amazon cash infusion

Seattle’s City Council elections were billed as a battle between the city’s corporate tech giants and a millennial-led socialist movement.

And with results from Tuesday’s election all but finalized, it appears the socialist wing will take a hit.

Of the seven candidates backed by corporate business interests and the recipients of a $1.5 million donation from Amazon to Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee (the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy), three claimed victory on Tuesday -- while three lost.

And one key target of Amazon's spending, socialist Council Member Kshama Sawant, looks poised for defeat. Early results showed her trailing challenger Egan Orion, who describes himself as progressive but says more can be accomplished by working with business owners than by demonizing them.


As of Wednesday morning, Sawant -- who has served on Seattle City Council since 2014 -- was trailing with 46 percent of the votes to challenger Orion's 54 percent, but she has yet to concede because she has historically garnered a large percentage of the later votes. Washington state’s vote-by-mail system means final results won't be known for days.

Sawant, who championed last year a $275-per-employee head tax that was specifically targeting Amazon with its roughly 50,000 Seattle employees, made the tech giant and its founder, Jeff Bezos, a frequent target in her campaign.

At a rally last week at Amazon’s headquarters, Sawant yelled, “We are absolutely opposed to the brazen attempt by Amazon and Jeff Bezos and the billionaire class in their attempt to straight-up carry out a hostile corporate takeover of City Hall.”

Sawant has had allies on the 2020 presidential campaign trail. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted last month, “Amazon is trying to tilt the City Council elections in their favor.” On Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., added on Twitter, “Jeff Bezos and Amazon think they can buy elections... Show Amazon that they can’t buy our democracy and that their corporate greed won’t stand. Get out and vote!”

But, Amazon is far from alone in pushing for a major council shakeup. Dozens of businesses have also contributed to CASE, including Starbucks, Boeing and Comcast. Two other PACs, People for Seattle and Moms for Seattle, were supporting the same candidates as CASE.


Sawant’s challenger, Orion, told the Seattle Times on Tuesday night that he was “90 percent confident” that he would win the election, but admitted that the incumbent did have the historic advantage of pulling in late votes.

Another socialist candidate was faring even worse than Sawant. Democratic socialist Shaun Scott trailed Alex Pedersen by roughly 16 points for an open seat as of Wednesday morning.

However, Tammy Morales, one of the candidates Sanders appeared to support in his tweet, led her opponent Mark Solomon by about 12 points in the city's 2nd District. Lisa Herbold, another candidate Sanders appeared to support and an incumbent, had a slight edge on her challenger Phil Tavel in the city's 1st District.

Fox News Dan Springer and Fox Business’ Evie Fordham contributed to this report.