The apparent victory of Kshama Sawant over incumbent Seattle City Councilman Richard Conlin proves something other than that a socialist can win election in lefty Seattle. It also shows that Seattle Proposition 1, taxpayer financing of city council campaigns, was not necessary.
It’s losing, narrowly, and that’s good. Taxpayers of Seattle, who are taxed heavily already, don’t need to pay for politicians’ campaigns.
The point of taxpayer financing, according to its advocates, is not to allow big money to buy elections. Consider Sawant. She is foreign-born with a foreign name. She had never held elective office. She is a socialist, and proudly says so. And she raised $105,630, according to the latest reports, in individual contributions no larger than $700. The total is less than half of what Conlin raised, but it was enough to beat him.
There were other radicals on the ballot, but they raised nothing. It wasn’t because the doors were shut to them. It was because they didn’t want to do the work.
Public financing is a law for lazy candidates.
The passage of Charter Amendment 19, for the election of most of the council by district, will make it easier for challengers to run, further undermining the case for taxpayer-financed political campaigns.