Sawant: Fake progressives to blame for low primary showing

SEATTLE – Socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant suggested fake progressive candidates are to blame for her vote total in the August primary election.

In an interview that aired Sunday on “The Divide,” Sawant was asked whether her 36.7% showing the primary concerned her.

“What happened in the primary was also a result of the fact that there was confusion for people because there were candidates who were running as progressive, but – ” Sawant stopped short.

“Aren’t progressive?” I asked.

“My simple position would be,” Sawant said, “if you are genuinely progressive and you support everything that my office has fought for, then why would you run against me? What is the purpose of trying to take down the one position we have that is actually fighting for things you believe in?”

Egan Orion, Sawant’s challenger in District 3, said he does believe in many of the things she’s fought for, but takes issue with the way in which she’s gone about it. Orion, who runs the city’s annual PrideFest and served as director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, said Sawant’s “brand has become toxic.”

“She has her own special brand of politics of division, derision, and demonization,” Orion said in an interview on “The Divide.”

“If that were successful in affecting real change and positive change, then I would say, ‘You know what, I maybe don’t like the tone of it or feeling of it, but she’s making some substantive changes there at City Hall that are really necessary,’” Orion said. “But what’s happened is that her brand has become toxic. And so, colleagues that she has to work with at City Council, or at the port, or the county, or the state level, she’s burned those bridges, so her ability to be effective is minimized by her political style.”

At least one of Sawant’s colleagues came to her defense Monday.

Councilman Mike O’Brien, who is not running for reelection in District 6, officially endorsed Sawant’s reelection campaign and rejected accusations that she’s divisive.

“Kshama is a strong woman of color who stands up to big business,” O’Brien said in a statement released by Sawant’s campaign. “I refute the negative attacks on her attempting to paint her as divisive because of her courageous positions. I find her to always be upfront, principled, and reliable, even if I don’t always agree with her theory of change or criticisms of other elected officials.”

Sawant said those who call her divisive are trying to distract from the real reason they don’t support her.

“The problem they have is that I did not bend to them,” she said. “But they won’t tell you the truth, which is that, ‘I don’t like her because she doesn’t represent my endless corporate greed.'"

Sawant said challenging the status quo sometimes requires disruption.

“If it requires disputing a city council meeting, then that needs to be done, because otherwise it’s not happening," she said.