The battle for Seattle’s 43rd legislative house seat currently held by Democrat House Speaker Frank Chopp is heating up. Socialist candidate Jess Spear—protégé to Kshama Sawant and $15 minimum wage activist—appears to be giving the Olympia veteran a run for his money (Chopp is the longest serving House speaker in state history).
Seattle’s 43rd District is “arguably the most liberal chunk of land in Washington” and consists of “Capitol Hill, the U District, Wallingford, Fremont and a part of downtown Seattle.” It is the smallest legislative district geographically and the most densely populated—but also has the fewest children. In other words, a young candidate filled with socialist ideas like Spear may just win the support of 43rd residents. Crosscut,
“Dominic Holden, a political writer for The Stranger, said many 43rd District voters are frustrated with the deadlocks in Olympia on education, transportation and other issues: “Frank Chopp is not bringing home the policies they support.” Of Spear, he says, “She can offer something Frank Chopp can’t — change.”
Spears’ campaign strategy appears to be just that—offering voters in the 43rd an opportunity for change. In an attempt to drive her message, Spears frequently blasts Chopp as a political insider that is beholden to corporate interests. Crosscut,
“Spear has portrayed Chopp as a servant to corporate interests who is doing little for working people. She criticized him for not getting a $12-an-hour minimum wage bill out of the House in earlier this year. “Frank Chopp is to the right of this district. He doesn’t really fight for issues that matter to this district,” Spear said. Spear said she would not accept donations from any corporate interests, and the Washington Public Disclosure Commission backs that up. Spear has raised $17,343, all in private donations.”
Additionally, Spear once told a group of supporters,
“Look, Chopp’s got experience doing the bidding of corporations; I’ve got experience organizing movements – movements that win concrete gains for working people, not giant handouts for corporations that are already making record profits…His 20 years in the legislature have left us with the most regressive taxes in the country, while the biggest corporations in the world are again and again given massive tax handouts. Frank Chopp is clearly the king of corporate welfare.”
We here at Shift are more inclined to believe Chopp is a special interests hack ourselves. It is worthwhile to note that Chopp has “received a long list of labor endorsements” and has “raised $133,553 so far from a mix of unions, corporations, lobbying groups and private citizens.”
The sting of being a socialist candidate who is largely ignored by unions has gone over too well with the Spear campaign.
As Shift previously reported, Spear’s campaign manager (and former Sawant manager) Philip Locker took the corporate attack jargon a step further and directed a hit at the SEIU when it publically endorsed Chopp. Locker said,
“If the labor movement gets off their butts, and doesn’t criminally support [Chopp] and supports an independent working class candidate, it will crush the argument that this (Sawant’s victory) is a one off fluke.”
Chopp responded to Spear’s attacking by saying, “She doesn’t know me at all. I’m not the tool of anybody.” Somehow, considering recent events (here and here), that’s a little difficult to believe—even for the most animated Chopp supporter.
Spear is better off accusing Chopp of being a servant to special interests… but, of course, she won’t.