Gloves Off: Steinbrueck Says Murray Is ‘The Candidate of the Establishment’

Mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck today said his primary contender Ed Murray is a creature of Olympia, has scant knowledge of Seattle issues and has become the darling of the city’s downtown establishment.

”He’s been in Olympia for 18 years working as a legislator, and what is his familiarity with issues in Seattle? I would suggest next to nothing,” Steinbrueck, a former city councilman, told Seattle Weekly during an interview at his newly opened campaign headquarters in the Central District.

With the August 6 primary fast approaching – vote-by-mail ballots go out Wednesday – Steinbrueck’s decision to go after Murray is revealing. It shows that the Steinbrueck camp is convinced that only Murray (not Councilman Bruce Harrell) stands in the way of winning one of the top spots in the primary. And like all the other challengers, he badly wants to face Mayor Mike McGinn.

Meanwhile, sources tell the Weekly that a new SurveyUSA poll commissioned by KING 5 News, expected to be released on Wednesday, will show that if the primary were held now, it would be McGinn and Steinbrueck facing off in the general election.

“I’m holding my ground. My position has held strong,” said Steinbrueck, who finished second behind the incumbent (22 percent to 17 percent) in a SurveyUSA poll in May. “To have been out of office for six years, and to have been outspent the way I have and yet to be this close is very encouraging.”

Commenting on The Seattle Times’ recent endorsement of Murray, Steinbrueck said, “It’s another case of establishment pile-on.” With a smile, the candidate noted, “I think it also signals his demise.” The Times, Steinbrueck says, has a bad track record with endorsements in recent years, having endorsed George Bush over John Kerry in 2004, Joe Mallahan in the 2009 mayoral primary, and Rob McKenna for governor in 2012.

Steinbrueck said there are a number of indicators that show how the “establishment” has rallied around the veteran Olympia lawmaker. First, Steinbrueck noted a Seattle Weekly story which enumerated on much of his campaign team once worked for former Mayor Greg Nickels, who was defeated for a third term four years ago.

Murray has also won the support of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and ex-King County Executive Ron Sims.

“I was disappointed that Sims didn’t even give me the time of day,” said Steinbrueck.

Steinbrueck added that Murray’s base of support is highly exaggerated by political pundits and that “he is not as well known in Seattle as I am.”

Steinbrueck clearly is banking on name recognition (his father Victor Steinbrueck saved Pike Place Market) as well as garnering heavy support (which he has) among older voters, who are far more prone to vote in primary elections.

In 2009, less than 10 percent of the voters between 18 and 35 participated in the primary, compared to 33 percent who were 65 and older, many of whom lived north of the Ballard Bridge, where mayoral campaigns are typically won or lost.

If turnout is low, say less than 35 percent, which is the latest projection by city election officials, Steinbrueck has a clear path to surviving the primary.

“I think we are running a much smarter campaign,” he said. “We’re using our funds more wisely, not just scattering campaign resources to the wind.”

Steinbrueck, who lacks the funds – and the inclination – to run TV spots, will begin a series of at least three citywide mailings on Wednesday. That, along with door-belling, phone calls, and persuading undecided voters – which remains quite high – is his best ticket to victory.

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