(CN) – Socialist incumbent Kshama Sawant edged closer to her big business-funded opponent in votes tallied Thursday – a trend that could put her alongside a handful of other progressive candidates Amazon spent over $1 million to oppose in the Seattle City Council race.
Last year, the city council passed a per-employee tax on the state’s largest employers to build affordable housing and fund its fight against homelessness. About 500 companies grossing $20 million or more per year would have paid approximately 14 cents per hour worked by each employee – which after five years would add up to over $45 million.
Amazon, Starbucks and the Downtown Seattle Association fought the tax and, two weeks later, the council voted 7-2 to repeal it. In Tuesday’s election, the tech giant dumped over $1 million into the race in an attempt to remove progressive council members and back candidates that would make the city council much more friendly to big business.
But the Amazon-led attempt to unseat progressive council members such as Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant and to fight Tammy Morales appears to be backfiring.
Washington state includes all mail-in ballots postmarked by the end of election day on Tuesday. So only about half the results had been tallied by the end of election night Tuesday, with more votes counted at 4 p.m. each day this week. As of Thursday afternoon, Seattle’s city council was on track to be even more progressive than it was before the election.
The following numbers are not final, and have not yet been certified by Washington’s secretary of state.
Socialist incumbent Kshama Sawant surged closer to Amazon-funded Egan Orion. Sawant, who has called for taxing big businesses to pay for housing, transit improvements and environmental protections, was behind by a mere 739 votes, with over 12,000 estimated still uncounted in Sawant and Orion’s district.
Votes counted Thursday increased incumbent Lisa Herbold’s lead to 53.5% over Phil Tavel – who received $120,000 from Amazon.
And Amazon-backed Mark Solomon, who works for the Seattle Police Department, trailed Tammy Morales, who now has 58% of the vote. Morales is a community planner who has called for another head tax, or some other form of taxing Seattle’s wealthiest, such as an inheritance tax, a tax on CEOs or on second homes.
Two other Amazon-approved candidates were behind Thursday. Ann Davison Sattler trailed incumbent Debora Juarez, who had 59.2% of the vote and Dan Strauss lead Heidi Wills with 53.8 percent.
In a single apparent win for big business, Alex Pedersen is leading over Shaun Scott, with 55% of the votes tallied.
Another big batch of votes will be counted Friday. Historically, progressive candidates get more of Seattle’s later votes.