Murray appears headed to victory in Seattle's mayoral race

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SEATTLE -- State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, appeared to be headed for victory in Seattle's mayoral race Tuesday night, taking a large lead -- 56-43% -- over Mayor Mike McGinn with about 40 percent of the votes reported.

'We believe we won, yes," Murray told a reporter late Tuesday night.

Indeed, The Seattle Times front-page headline Wednesday morning blared in big, bold type, "It's Mayor Murray"

The first day's ballot count by King County Elections had 50,938 votes for Murray and 39,124 votes for McGinn, who was seeking his second term in office.

"The votes are in," McGinn told his supporters in what sounded at points almost like a concession speech.  But as supporters yelled no, McGinn added, "But there's more votes. We're not done."

McGinn finished up his remarks by saying the last four years had made him "the happiest in the world."

McGinn, while the incumbent, found himself in the position of underdog in this race. It could be because he's been dogged by criticism that he's a somewhat thorny mayor -- willing to go to the mat for issues he vehemently supports -- and he's faced criticism concerning downtown safety and the police department's use of excessive force that brought the Department of Justice to town to try to rectify the situation.

Murray, on the other hand, could be viewed as an establishment wonk who has 18 years of experience as a state lawmaker under his belt but no experience managing a large, metropolitan city, although he can lay claim to penning Referendum 74 which legalized same-sex marriage in the state. He says he will be more collaborative than McGinn, but a look at a lot of his proposed agenda items don't differ all that much from McGinn's -- each candidate says they favor more public transit and universal kindergarten, for example, so this one is really up to the voter's to decide who they are more comfortable with taking over the reins of the city.

Initiative 522: Losing 53-47% with 811,356 votes counted.

In what could be the most expensive political campaign in the state's history -- it's been reported that more than $30 million has been spent and most of it came from out-of-state donors -- this hotly contentious issue was shot down in California's general election last year, and if it did pass here, Washington would lay claim to being the first state in the country to require labeling on genetically modified foods. Pundits believe I-522 will get a supportive nod on the western side of the state, but the rest of Washington, including its agricultural heartland, could easily step up and swing this to a no vote.

'Good Jobs Initiative':  Winning 54-46% with 3,283 votes counted in city of SeaTac. Could the small burg of SeaTac set a national precedent? It could if the initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for airport and hotel workers passes. The measure, prompted by frustration over a lack of a federal wage increase initiative, isn't just on Washington state's ballot as New Jersey, Alaska, South Dakota and Idaho either have it on the ballot or are working to gather signatures. It's also a main platform issue for socialist city council candidate Kshama Sawant -- she's considered an outsider in the race, but a number of low-earning workers should rally behind her calls for a higher minimum wage, public transit expansion, affordable housing and other socially driven agenda items.

For a list of the candidates and issues on the ballot, go the King County website. And hang on -- the first ballot results will be released shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday. After that you can see King County results here, county results here and statewide results here.