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June 23, 2009 at 10:47 PM

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Mallahan showing some momentum?

Posted by Jim Brunner

Seattle mayoral candidate Joe Mallahan didn't get enough votes tonight for an endorsement of the King County Democrats.

But the political newcomer had another good showing -- getting more support than any other candidate. (Much like he did at last week's 46th district Democrats meeting.)

Mallahan had his rivals on the defensive going into tonight's gig at the Renton Carpenters Hall.

"Our whole strategy tonight is to block Mallahan," Seattle City Councilmember Jan Drago, another mayoral candidate, told me before the vote. She grumbled that Mallahan "hasn't paid his dues" in local politics.

Mallahan had the advantage of being close friends with Dean Willard, chairman of the King County Democrats endorsements committee. (Willard works with Mallahan at T-Mobile.)

That panel had recommended an endorsement for Mallahan, while also coolly putting incumbent Mayor Greg Nickels' name forward "for the body's consideration."

Several rounds of voting ensued but no one got the two-thirds majority needed for an endorsement. There were attempts to dual-endorse two or three candidates that got shot down -- including a proposed "Irish endorsement" of Mallahan and Mike McGinn.

As at other Democratic district events this year, there was a lot of dissatisfaction expressed with Nickels. Critics described the mayor as a fake progressive and out of touch with neighborhoods. His defenders called him "solid" and argued he was a Democratic party stalwart.

Several Democratic groups snubbed Nickels in 2005, but it didn't mean much that year when he faced a weak crop of opponents. It's different this time around. And right now, Mallahan seems to me to be coming on a bit. He has money -- mostly his own -- and now is showing some ability to connect with the liberal Democratic-activist base of the city.

You can't read too much into these endorsements, which are dominated by party activists who don't necessarily represent the city as a whole. (And tonight, of course, some of those voting lived outside Seattle.)

But with limited metrics to measure the mayor's race by at this time, Mallahan is showing some strength.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.