Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and state Sen. Ed Murray engaged in a mostly low-key debate Tuesday sponsored by social services organizations at the Garfield Community Center.
Both mayoral rivals boasted of their records of seeking to direct more money to services for the homeless and poor. They only indirectly criticized each other — McGinn pointing to the state Legislature cutting services for the mentally ill and Murray saying he’d collaborate better with elected leaders to build support for new revenue.
It was only the end of the debate that produced fireworks, as Murray appeared to become irritated by McGinn’s latest attempt to portray him as the bought-and-paid-for candidate of the downtown business establishment.
In his one-minute closing statement, McGinn jabbed at Murray’s frequent claim he’d be a more unifying leader as Seattle mayor.
McGinn said Murray has united corporate donors like “Coke, Pepsi, Vulcan, Comcast…”
Murray, standing behind McGinn, interrupted: “And labor unions, Planned Parenthood.”
McGinn turned to him: “Really, senator Murray?” he said of the interruption, drawing some tittering from the crowd. The debate moderator, University of Washington professor David Domke, admonished Murray to let McGinn finish.
McGinn continued, noting the Metropolitan Seattle Chamber of Commerce had already sunk more than $50,000 into efforts to elect Murray mayor.
“My support comes from the people, because I look out for the people,” McGinn said, asking for more support to combat the “tens of thousands” more the business groups will spend to defeat him.
After the debate, McGinn laughed at Murray’s outburst, suggesting he was in the wrong race if he couldn’t stand to hear criticism without losing his cool. McGinn said he’s stood and listened to plenty of criticism of his record during the campaign. “I stand up and I take it with a smile,” McGinn said.
Murray said he did not lose his temper and was smiling as he interrupted the mayor. But he was clearly irritated by the continuing McGinn line of attack, pointing out McGinn, too, has received support from big Seattle developers and other businesses.
“I just thought it was time to rip him,” Murray said. “He’s got business checks too.”