Progressive cheers went up far and wide Friday after Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant officially defeated a right-wing recall effort, which the Socialist Alternative lawmaker called “part of the nationwide backlash” by billionaires and Big Business targeting lawmakers and others fighting for social justice and working people.
“The ruling class in the United States is afraid of these kinds of movements and so we should not be surprised by the reaction.”
Elections officials in King County, Washington certified the anti-recall effort, with a final tally of 20,656 ballots against recalling Sawant and 20,346 in favor—a victory margin of 310 votes.
“We have won three elections and now we have defeated this recall,” Sawant said during a Thursday interview for Jordan Chariton’s Status Coup News podcast. “We have defeated Big Business and the right wing in their attempt to use… trumped-up charges against me personally in order to push back against the success of working-class movements in Seattle.”
Turnout was around 53%, an unusually high figure for a special election that nearly matched the 55% level of last year’s general election. Sawant supporters utilized an array of get-out-the-vote tactics, including pop-up tents where ballots were printed, to reach voters.
Sawant, the longest-tenured Seattle council member and the first ever to face a recall, was accused of “misfeasance, malfeasance, and violation of the oath of office.”
Her supporters, however, argued that Sawant’s successful record of fighting for working-class people and against billionaires and Big Business made her a target of “a cabal of tech corporations, real estate interests, and business lobbyists.”
Sawant was instrumental in making Seattle the first major U.S. city to enact a $15 hourly minimum wage. She also helped spearhead the successful push for the so-called “Amazon tax” on large corporations and the fight for robust tenant protections including free legal aid for people facing eviction and a Renters’ Bill of Rights.
“The ruling class in the United States is afraid of these kinds of movements,” Sawant told Chariton, “and so we should not be surprised by the reaction, and the recall against us was at least part of that reaction.”
The socialist councilmember also said that “it’s no coincidence” that two of the three reasons given for the recall “were related to my participation in and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.”
“The recall against my office is part of the nationwide backlash… against this incredible movement that happened last year with 26 million American people, especially young people, marching in the streets in multi-racial working-class solidarity against police repression, against racism, and against oppression,” she said.