Effort to recall Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant fails

A recall effort for Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has failed on the ballot. 

As of Dec. 17, 310 votes separate the "no" recall voters and the "yes" votes, with the former edging out. 

According to official results from King County elections, 50.38% voted to not recall Sawant and 49.62% voted to recall the socialist councilwoman. 

There are more than 77,000 voters in District 3. Over 41,000 of them came out and voted in the recall. 

Mark Alan Smith, a political science professor at the University of Washington, said the reason voter turnout is higher than expected is because Sawant is so polarizing.

Sawant, 48, an Indian immigrant and an economics professor, is the longest-tenured council member. She has had an outsized influence on the tone and direction of Seattle politics since launching her political career under the banner of the Socialist Alternative party in 2012, when she ran unsuccessfully for state representative.

Kshama Sawant claims victory in recall vote

While the results in the recall election still aren't definitive, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is already claiming victory.

She was elected to City Council the following year, and her threat to run a voter initiative drive for an immediate $15 minimum wage has been credited with pressuring business leaders and then-Mayor Ed Murray to reach a deal raising the wage to $15 over a few years. Seattle was the first major city in the U.S. to adopt such a measure.

The recall question on the ballot cites three charges: a minor campaign finance violation that Sawant acknowledged and for which she paid a fine; her alleged leadership of a protest march to the home of Mayor Jenny Durkan, even though Durkan’s address was protected by a state confidentiality law due to her prior work as a federal prosecutor; and her decision to let a crowd of protesters into City Hall while it was closed due to the pandemic.

Results should be verified on Dec. 17. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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