Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant speaks during a rally at the Amazon Spheres and headquarters in solidarity with Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, who hope to unionize, in Seattle, Washington on March 26, 2021. (Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

Nail-Biter in Seattle as Recall of Socialist Kshama Sawant Remains Too Close to Call

Preliminary returns showed effort to oust progressive city council member was supported by 53% of voters, but crucial late ballots might lean in her favor.

The outcome of the recall effort targeting socialist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant was still too close to call early Wednesday, as supporters pointed to her 2019 electoral win as a sign she may still have a chance to fend off the challenge.

"Big business and the right wing want to remove Kshama because she's such an effective fighter for working people."

District 3 council member Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative Party, faced the recall election Tuesday, and a final ballot count is expected by Friday.

As of late Tuesday, results showed 53% of District 3 voters backing the recall compared to roughly 47% opposed. Of the approximately 2,600 ballots left to count, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Sawant needs more than 75% in her favor to avoid ouster.

The PI also noted that "progressive voters are known for voting later, which means the bulk of the remaining votes could be in Sawant's favor."

Author and social justice campaigner Jonathan Rosenblum expressed optimism about Sawant's chances as well.

"We're going to beat this right-wing recall," he wrote in a Twitter thread late Tuesday.

"Because late votes (which aren't in tonight's count) lean left, the recallers had to keep us under 44% tonight to win," he said. "They failed."

In the 2019 election to hold on to her District 3 seat, Sawant "had 45.61% on election night and ended up with 51.83%," tweeted Rosenblum. "Tonight, we started with 46.90%, and will only improve from here."

The recall campaign, as Common Dreams reported this week, is backed by Republican donors and real estate developers.

According to the Kshama Solidarity Campaign, the recall effort is bankrolled by "right-wing billionaire donors" and is underway because Sawant "has used her eight years in office to win historic victories like the $15 minimum wage, the Amazon Tax to fund housing, and landmark renters protections that infuriate the real estate lobby."

Recall supporters accuse Sawant of using city resources to support a ballot initiative, flouting state pandemic rules by admitting people into City Hall when it was closed to the public, and violating confidentiality rules by leading a protest march to Mayor Jenny Durkan's private residence.

Sawant's team rejects those charges, saying in a statement to local KING5 that the accusations are "dishonest and the courts haven't found her guilty of anything."

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"Big business and the right-wing want to remove Kshama," the statement continued, "because she's such an effective fighter for working people."

Sawant's current term is set to expire at the end of 2023. If the recall effort is successful, she would be removed December 17, the day elections results will be certified. A special election to fill the seat would take place in 2022.

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