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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

October 30, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Some Democrats upset that others are supporting socialist Sawant

Several members of the 37th District Democrats lodged complaints against the group’s political vice chair for campaigning in support of a non-Democrat — socialist Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant.

The complaints against Jeanne Legault came after she started distributing Sawant advertisements while doorbelling. The complaints were dismissed because City Council races are nonpartisan.

“Jeanne Legault has been a committed Democrat for decades, and she’s worked for the Democratic Party for those same decades, so there’s no there there,” said Michael Wolfe, the chairman of the 37th District Democrats, who is running for a seat on the Port of Seattle Commission.

The 37th district is centered in Southeast Seattle. The party group there has endorsed Sawant’s opponent, fourth-term incumbent Richard Conlin, who lives in the district and has been considered a reliable liberal voice.

Legault said she chose to support Sawant because “what she’s espousing is far more Democratic than her opponent.” Legault said she thinks some fellow Democrats are upset with her because of the “Ralph Nader thing” — a lingering distrust for third-party candidates after Nader took votes from presidential hopeful Al Gore in 2000, perhaps costing him the election.

The tiff among 37th District Democrats illustrates a broader debate that has taken place since Sawant took a surprising 35 percent of the vote in the August primary, holding Conlin to 48 percent.

Sawant says her platform echoes the beliefs of rank-and-file Democrats, whom she says have been abandoned by their party leadership.

Today, Sawant held a media event to showcase her support among Democrats. In addition to Legault, the event was attended by Daniel Norton, former chair of the King County Democrats, and Yusuf Cabdi, former chair of the Seattle Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.

Cabdi described the “Democrats for Sawant” movement as the “Tea (Party) version of the Democratic Party.”

“We want to challenge the status quo of the Democratic Party,” he said.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: 37th District Democrats, Daniel Norton, Jeanne Legault

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