Defend Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant Against the Right Wing Recall

“I am not right wing, I am very much a Democrat,” said Henry Bridger, campaign manager for the recall effort against Seattle’s socialist city councilwoman Kshama Sawant in a televised debate earlier this month. Whether Bridger is himself deluded enough to earnestly believe what sounds like a literal punchline to many on the actual ‘left wing’ is besides the point.

The point is that the recall effort against Sawant is being backed by a coalition of Republicans, big business, and, yes, “right wing” Democrats. Seattle real estate mogul Martin Selig, a donor to Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, backs the recall, as does the city’s Democratic mayor Jenny Durkan, a party insider who has openly spoken out against Sawant as well as Tammy Morales, who she warned her network was “another socialist” seeking a seat on the city council.

That Democrats and Republicans would work together to block and/or remove socialists from positions of power is certainly no surprise. They just did so in Buffalo, where incumbent Democrat Byron Brown forged a cross-party alliance for a successful write-in campaign against socialist India Walton who defeated him in the city’s Democratic primary earlier this year.

Residents of Seattle’s District 3 are receiving their ballots by today (November 22), and must be returned by December 7. Because this special recall election is taking place one month after the national Election Day on November 2, turnout is expected to be significantly lower, which Sawant believes is by design.

Sawant has accused the recall effort of deliberately dragging its feet on collecting signatures specifically to push the recall onto its own ballot, depressing turnout. In order to try and combat this, Sawant actually signed the petition herself, for her own recall, and encouraged her supporters to do the same.

The recall campaign claims that they were trying to get on the November 2 ballot, but that Sawant and her supporters’ additional signatures “put [their] small staff under great pressure,” and so they were unable to meet the deadline. This is a dubious claim, seeing as Sawant likely would not have signed a petition for her own recall had she not strongly suspected an intentional effort by the recall campaign to soft-pedal their signature gathering in order to delay the vote.

Sawant’s team claims that a low turnout election favors the recall campaign seeing as Sawant has been re-elected twice to her seat on the council, after her 2013 victory made her the first socialist to hold a city-wide office in Seattle in almost 100 years. They say that her efforts on wages, renters’ rights, and support for the Black Lives Matter movement, have been successful both in the streets and at the ballot box, and that the recall is a cynical attempt at a “do-over.”

Bryan Koulouris, Kshama’s campaign manager in 2019 and Kshama Solidarity campaign spokesperson, joined our podcast for a discussion on how and why the recall is taking place, how everyone can get involved to help defeat it, and the importance of unapologetically making enemies in high places when fighting for the working class.

Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below (interview begins at the 5:04 mark), and subscribe to our podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player. Visit kshamsolidarity.org to get involved with the campaign.

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Photo: Seattle City Council (cc 2.0)

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