Speaking with a slew of local political types over the last month, it became obvious that many in Seattle were waiting intently to hear what decision former King County Exec Ron Sims would make in regard to the 2013 Seattle mayoral race.
Well, now we have our answer. As he announced on KUOW Monday, Sims will not enter the mayoral fracas- despite a recent Survey USA poll indicating he and incumbent Mike McGinn were early (very early) frontrunners.
The question now becomes: What does this mean for McGinn and the rest of the crowded field of hopefuls?
When local political movers and shakers are posed with that question, the results are mixed. While all seem to agree the race heading into August's primary is wide open (and would have been wide open even with Sims in the fray), who exactly a Sims-less race benefits most is up to interpretation.
The Survey USA poll indicated - albeit it strangely and inconclusively - that McGinn picks up about three percentage points with Sims out of the mix, bumping the incumbent up to 18 or 19 percent support. With a crowded field with or without Sims, and experts speculating it will take anywhere between 20 and 25 percent of the vote to advance in the primary, everyone seems to agree there is a path for McGinn to move on. It will come down campaigning - and who does it best. Luckily for the mayor, this is one of his strong suits.
"This is still a wide open race," says McGinn campaign consultant John Wyble. "We are excited to talk about the Mayor's accomplishments. [Sims' decision] did not change it in any real way."
Putting the potential of a Sims candidacy in perspective, longtime political consultant Cathy Allen - who's now working for the Steinbrueck campaign - puts it another way. Allen says many viewed Sims as the race's "800-pound gorilla," but as she notes, "An 800-pound gorilla cut seven ways is still pretty light."
Besides McGinn, the other candidates most seem to agree that Sims' decision will benefit are Peter Steinbrueck and Bruce Harrell. While Steinbrueck - at least early on - has rarely been mentioned among the big-name players like Ed Murray, Tim Burgess and McGinn, many insiders tell Seattle Weekly there's room for him to stake a claim - and Sims' decision likely makes it a bit easier. The Survey USA poll indicates Steinbrueck stands to pick up about 10 percent of Sims' supporters. Couple this with the fact that Steinbrueck - who still benefits from his family's name recognition - has a potential base of conservatives, anti-arena types and old-school, nimby-style liberals, and it could make his campaign formidable.
When it comes to Harrell, Insiders suggest that a Sims-less field could benefit the race's only other minority candidate.
But that's all pure speculation at this point. About the only thing everyone seems to agree on is, inching toward August's primary, the race remains wide open.