Tuesday, October 20, 2009

McGinn changes tack on tunnel

The P-I has the story, and Crosscut's Knute Berger (my former boss at Seattle Weekly) offers a bit o' commentary. My ballot's in the mail, so there's not much I can do. I can't say I'm 100% surprised, given the City Council's unanimous show of support for deep-boring. Still, as one P-I commenter points out,
Actually, if the tunnel is a done deal, a vote for McGinn gets us better Transit in the form of expanded light rail and streetcars, which helps people who won't use the tunnel.
As Berger notes, McGinn's switch makes sense on one level:
The upside of the switch for McGinn is that it might win him votes, and observers (like the pro-McGinn folks at Publicola) think he looked at his polling numbers and realized he had less to lose by flip-flopping than by sticking to his guns. And it's true that McGinn was leaving a lot of votes on the table with his tunnel opposition.
But on the macro PR level, the idealist-vs.-corporate-realist level, it's a strange shift:
If Mike McGinn is a conviction candidate — as contrasted with Mallahan, who seems to be an avatar (or is it shill?) of Seattle's power establishment — he's undercutting his main strength, which is to take bold, challenging stands against the conventional wisdom. You can say this is smart politics, and I suppose it would be if he were running as a conventional politician, but everything about his campaign's appeal — the low budget, the accessibility of the candidate, the insurgent tactics, even the beard — have pointed in a different direction.
I have a feeling Mallahan will win, but I suppose we can't count McGinn out yet.

No comments: