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Amazon spent a fortune to block a socialist candidate's re-election to Seattle city council; she won anyway

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Former tech worker Kshama Sawant (previously) won an unprecedented victory in 2013 by running for Seattle city council as on the Socialist Alternative ticket, raising unprecedented sums in small-money donations, and then winning the election after a last-minute surge in the polls.

Seattle is a city dominated by a handful of giant corporations (Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, and, of course, Amazon) and has historically had a municipal government that put those companies' interests first, so Sawant's victory (and her subsequent re-election) was a huge change in Seattle politics -- and Amazon was determined to change them back.

Amazon funnelled $1.5m through a Chamber of Commerce PAC that worked with the "Civic Alliance For A Sound Economy PAC," to back Sawant's opponent and other "business-friendly" candidates -- an eye-popping sum that had climbed considerably since 2015, when Amazon only spent $130k on the city's elections.

Once again, Sawant came from behind to win her seat, a phenomenon she attributes to 1,000 doorbell-ringing volunteers. Sawant's losing opponent, Egan Orion, said that the Amazon money was "unnecessary" and "a distraction."

Four other candidates endorsed by the Civic Alliance For A Sound Economy also seemed set to lose. Phil Tavel, Heidi Wills, Mark Solomon and Jim Pugel trailed their opponents by at least 6%, with Solomon down by about 20%. Two candidates endorsed by the Pac, Alex Pedersen and Debora Juarez, had substantial leads.

A win for Sawant would give her a third term. She has been a fierce critic of the influence of big business on Seattle, and helped lead the push last year for the head tax, a per-employee tax on large corporations that was repealed a month after passing unanimously.

On Saturday, Sawant said she planned to continue her battle for a tax on big business. Orion does not support the head tax.

Blow to Amazon as Seattle socialist looks to have triumphed in key vote [Hallie Golden/The Guardian]

(via Naked Capitalism)



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Cory Doctorow, Khareem Sudlow