The Kshama Sawant Solidarity campaign is gearing up for the Washington State Supreme Court to certify the recall against the Seattle council member tomorrow.
Back in September, Sawant appealed a King County Superior Court judge's decision to certify four of six charges brought against her in a recall effort bankrolled by notorious Sawant critics. The Supreme Court will decide on Sawant's appeal tomorrow. Late last year, the Court sided with Mayor Jenny Durkan's appeal and overturned the recall against her, but Sawant's team isn't hopeful the council member's recall will go the same way.
Sawant Solidarity spokesperson Bryan Koulouris said he thinks "it's likely" that the Court "decides the wrong way" tomorrow and will decline Sawant's appeal and certify the recall.
For Koulouris, recalling Sawant seems like an attempt to "re-do" the 2019 election Sawant won soundly despite the flood of corporate cash leveled against her. Koulouris said he anticipates that a certified recall could set the tone for other municipal elections this year as corporations try to reclaim city hall.
Recalls are weird because the courts don't decide on whether recall subjects are guilty of the charges brought against the elected officials, but rather on whether the nature of the complaints—factually and legally speaking—involve an official committing malfeasance, misfeasance, or a violation of their oath of office.
Koulouris said he wasn't confident in the Court's decision because of how the courts have "been on the side of the backlash of the Black Lives Matter movement" and "several of the charges" brought against Sawant have to do with Black Lives Matter protests.
Currently, Sawant is facing allegations of violating Gov. Jay Inslee's COVID-19 restrictions for allowing protesters to enter City Hall in June, taking a march to Mayor Jenny Durkan's home, allowing the Socialist Alternative to make hiring decisions for her council office, and using city resources for Tax Amazon promotional materials. The charges mirror the accusations Durkan lodged against Sawant in a letter calling for the council to investigate her actions this summer.
One sticking point for Sawant's defense is the charge alleging she violated COVID-19 restrictions. As I reported last year, the Court recently approved a recall against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney for flouting Gov. Jay Inslee's COVID-19 restrictions. That decision sets a precedent that may impact Sawant's case. Koulouris maintained that there was "no violation" of Inslee's restrictions.
If the recall goes forward, the Recall Sawant campaign—which has not responded to any requests for comment from me since they announced the recall last summer—will have to gather 10,000 signatures from District 3 residents since only District 3 residents will be eligible to vote in the recall.
As of now, it's unclear when that election will take place. The recall may not have enough time to gather signatures for the petition before a special election in April, but they have until July to make it on the August primary ballot.
King County Elections spokesperson Hannah Kurowski said when the election is held "depends entirely on when we get the petition." After that happens, King County Elections certifies the signatures and has 45 to 90 days to hold the election.
"If the April special election falls within that window," Kurowski said in an email, "we would likely pick that date, although we won’t know for sure until we get the petition. We’re also not allowed to hold a recall election between the Primary and the General."
If the recall is certified, the Sawant Solidarity campaign will focus on a "decline to sign campaign" to stop District 3 residents from signing the recall. So far, Koulouris says the campaign has around 200 volunteers and has raised a little over $192,000. The recall campaign has raised more than $223,700.
Koulouris is confident that the Solidarity Campaign has more in-district support than the recall effort. That's hard to prove this time around since the recall has explicitly asked donors to donate under $25, since donations that small don't require donors to identify themselves or their addresses.
Out of the recall's 3,958 contributors, 74% are anonymous and only 10% are from District 3. There very well could be a bunch of District 3 residents without a lot of spare cash making small donations against Sawant, or maybe a shit-ton of out-of-district donors want to keep their names out of the recall effort. We just don't know.
What we do know is that 34% were of the 1,833 people who have contributed to the Solidarity campaign live in District 3. The biggest chunk of contributions—38% of them—came from outside of Seattle.
Koulouris said that the Solidarity campaign is already seeing more momentum than previous Sawant campaigns.
This has a lot to do with the upcoming election. Koulouris said that "big business and billionaires... are really determined to hold on to [their] power that they have. It’s going to be an attempt to buy City Hall," he said, referring to the 2019 election where Amazon spent $1.5 million in Seattle's city council races. "They’re going to go after Kshama and try to buy their way into replacing a mayor similar to Mayor Jenny Durkan and [buy] those two council seats."
The Mayor, the two at-large city council positions held by Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena Gonzalez, and the City Attorney are the city positions up for re-election this year. As of now, Durkan is not running for re-election, and Mosqueda has announced she will pursue a second term in her council seat.
"A lot is at stake here, and that’s why people are fired up," Koulouris said.
The Court's decision will be released sometime tomorrow, though the exact time is unclear.