SEATTLE - Ann Davison found herself in an unusual position Wednesday morning. Davison, a Republican, woke up with a lead in the race for Seattle City Attorney – unheard of in one of the most progressive places in the country.
"It is showing that we can have both compassion and safety when we all come together," Davison told Q13 News shortly after ballots dropped Tuesday evening. "That’s the main message that I am happy to bring forward and that seems to be what a lot of people want to hear."
In early returns, Davison led a closely divided race with 34.6% of the vote. Three-term incumbent Pete Holmes trailed with 32.8%, followed by Nicole Thomas-Kennedy with 32.2%.
The top two vote-getters will move ahead to November’s general election.
With candidates separated by such small margins, it is still possible for Davison to be pushed out of contention – especially considering progressives typically perform better in late ballot returns.
Nevertheless, her showing is impressive in a city with zero Republican leadership and reflects an appetite among voters for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office to pursue misdemeanor crimes and repeat offenders more aggressively.
"It is really a critical time for Seattle and this seat is paramount to the future of Seattle and how we address social issues in a way that protects everyone," said Davison.
For his part, Holmes tried hard to paint Davison as a candidate who was not in line with Seattle's values and argued that neither of his opponents have enough experience to do the job he has now held for 12 years.
Holmes said Seattleites want their elected prosecutor to be "smart on crime, not tough on crime."
"Smart on crime means going at the underlying causes and trying to address ‘why is this person committing this crime? Is it a crime of survival, or is it something that needs to be prosecuted with traditional jail time as the consequence?’ And we do both.’"
Thomas-Kennedy, a late arrival to the race who wants to abolish the current criminal justice system, would take the office even further away from traditional prosecutions.
Once tweeting that property destruction was a "moral imperative" during the height of 2020’s unrest in Seattle, Thomas-Kennedy has suggested she would seek alternatives to punishment in most cases.
"If you have something like a shoplift where the merchandise is recovered, I don’t see the point in sending thousands of dollars of the city’s money prosecuting that. It doesn’t make any sense to me."
Whether a Republican could ultimately win in November would depend on who advances with her.
Should Davison make it through to the general election, she could mount a more successful campaign against Thomas-Kennedy, whose extreme views on police defunding and criminal justice abolition would be a hard sell for voters citywide – especially at a time of increased crime.
Holmes would be a harder opponent. More mainstream than Thomas-Kennedy, Holmes could pull in voters who aren’t willing to make the jump to a Republican.
King County is expected to drop a second round of returns at 4:00 pm Wednesday. The Seattle City Attorney’s Race is one to watch.
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