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  The Case for Mike McGinn, Part 1: He's the Change We Need (in the Mayor's Office)
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Parent(s) Race 
ContributorCraverguy 
Last EditedCraverguy  Oct 13, 2009 06:39pm
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CategoryOpinion
AuthorEli Sanders
MediaNewspaper - The Stranger
News DateTuesday, October 6, 2009 06:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionIt is, of course, an old story. It is the story of Barack Obama, sure. But he's only the most recent and well-known iteration of an ancient narrative—the story of the heroic savior. In Seattle, in the race for mayor, it has become the story of Mike McGinn: A surprising leader steps onto the scene and finds that he is perfectly matched for a defining time.

On primary night, in a close race where he was considered vastly outmatched by the other candidates—the two front-runners had been running television ads for weeks, whereas McGinn hadn't run a single one—McGinn won. Joe Mallahan, the T-Mobile executive with personal wealth and lots of wealthy contributors, came in second. Greg Nickels, the incumbent, who'd been in contests like this many times before, came in third. Which means he's now out of the picture.

That makes the race for mayor a contest without an incumbent, a face-off between two untested men, a choice that is, either way, a gamble.

But it's also a choice between stark stylistic differences. Mallahan's main political accomplishment thus far has been to figure out how much it costs to buy one's way into a Seattle mayoral race. (Over $230,000 of his own money and counting.) He wears suits, employs tested political hands, brags about having the support of the city's "insiders." Then there's McGinn, who is no neophyte—he's been a lawyer, a neighborhood activist, and president of the local Sierra Club—but has shrewdly embraced the chance to run as an outsider, as the leader of an insurgent campaign. He says "grassroots" whenever possible. He refuses to have an official spokesperson (he does the speaking or simply allows the conduct of the campaign to speak for itself). And as he bikes around town in shirt and jeans, he smiles through an only somewhat trimmed, I-don't-give-a-****, logger-chic beard.
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