Ann Davison appears victorious in race for Seattle city attorney

This undated photo provided by Neighbors for Ann Campaign shows Ann Davison, a candidate for Seattle city attorney. Davison, a commercial lawyer, is making her third run for office in three years, after failed bids as a Democrat for city council in 2019 and as a Republican for lieutenant governor in 2020. She says she worries about Seattle’s livability and rufuses calls to defund the police. (Neighbors for Ann Campaign via AP)AP

It seems Ann Davison has defeated opponent Nicole Thomas-Kennedy in what was arguably the most high-profile race for Seattle city attorney in history.

The latest results from Tuesday’s general election shows Davison winning 52% of ballots cast. She jumped out to an early rule Tuesday, leading her opponent by a margin of about 17 points. Thomas-Kennedy attained ground as more ballots were counted — she closed the margin to approximately 11 points Thursday — but Friday’s results appear to have sealed the win for Davison.

So far, Davison has received 125,437 votes. Thomas-Kennedy has 112,862. The city has 17,835 ballots left to count. That method Thomas-Kennedy would need to obtain approximately 15,000 — about 84% — of the remaining ballots to win, making a reappearance improbable but not impossible.

Davison would be the first woman to ever serve as Seattle’s city attorney. 

Although the city attorney is a non-partisan office, a person’s political leanings matter to voters. The candidates have greatly different views — both are attorneys — but it’s hard to get a read on which political party Davison truly belongs to.

She ran for a nonpartisan Seattle City Council seat in 2019 — a waste of time if you don’t keep up liberal views — but then ran for lieutenant governor last year as a Republican. Before that campaign, she claimed she was leaving the Democratic party, but it seems likely that she’s always harbored some conservative opinions. It’s hard to imagine a dyed-in-the-wool liberal publicly identifying themselves as a Republican at time when Donald Trump was president.

If Davison really sees herself as a member of the GOP, she would be the first Republican to win elected office in Seattle since Paul Kraabel. He served on the city council from 1975 until 1991.

Conversely, it’s not hard to figure out where Thomas-Kennedy lands on the political spectrum.

A self-described “abolitionist,” she vowed to eliminate the prosecution of misdemeanor crimes, which she says essentially criminalize poverty. She also promised to defend progressive tax laws, sue fossil fuel companies, and work to abolish the voter-approved state ban on affirmative action.

She was an ideal progressive candidate. But it was her far-left platform, combined with several inflammatory statements made about police, that caused several of Seattle’s more moderate Democrats to side with Republicans in voting for Davison.

already former Governors Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke, both Democrats, endorsed Davison. In their joint endorsement, they said Thomas-Kennedy’s desire to end the prosecution of misdemeanor crimes would make Seattle less safe. They also characterized her statements about police as unfit for someone seeking to keep up public office.

In several tweets from 2020 — many of which have since been deleted — Thomas-Kennedy said she had a “rabid hatred” of police and called them “crybabies” and “serial killers.” She replied to a holiday message from the Seattle Police Department with a tweet that included the line: “Eat some covid laced s–t and quit ur jobs.” She also called the person who detonated an explosive device near the department’s East Precinct a “hero.”

In response to the criticism, Thomas-Kennedy has said she made the tweets during a time when emotions were running high — she bought a gas disguise for her 9-year-old daughter to use in their home when police were firing tear gas at protestors in her neighborhood — and when she had no plans to run for public office. She’s also maintained that the tweets are a distraction, and said voters should focus on her platform.

Davison framed herself a “pragmatist.” She separated herself from Thomas-Kennedy — and the hullabaloo made about her party switch — by emphasizing that the city attorney position is non-partisan and “not a place to pursue a extreme agenda.”

On the campaign trail, she advocated for aggressive stances on repeat criminal offenders and homelessness. But as far as specifics go, that’s about it. Her campaign website includes several platitudes about bringing the city together, but offers little in the way of policy proposals.

Current City Attorney Pete Holmes faced intense criticism last year for his response to the several Black Lives Matter protests that broke out across Seattle following the murder of George Floyd. It seemed like he would go into August’s dominant without a challenger, but both Davison and Thomas-Kennedy filed to run at the last second. Holmes was ultimately squeezed out of the race during the dominant, securing just 31% of the vote.

Davison received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Baylor University in Texas. She earned her juris doctorate from Willimate University in Oregon. She moved to Seattle in 1996, where she worked for the Seattle Supersonics until 2001.

She became a practicing attorney and arbitrator in Seattle in 2005. She also teaches international business law at the University of Washington’s Continuum College.

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