Seattle mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan gets major labor-union endorsement, business cash

Large and influential union local SEIU 775 endorsed Jenny Durkan for mayor Tuesday, and business groups are spending to boost her campaign.

The state’s largest union local endorsed former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in the Seattle mayoral race Tuesday, as business groups reported major contributions to a pro-Durkan political committee.

Headed by David Rolf, a national labor leader who helped plan the campaign for a $15-per-hour minimum wage in Seattle and beyond, SEIU 775 represents more than 44,000 home-health and nursing-home workers and has considerable political clout.

The announcement wasn’t a complete surprise, as Rolf and the union have been loyal supporters of Mayor Ed Murray, who endorsed Durkan last week.

SEIU 775 first lined up behind Murray during the 2013 campaign, citing his commitment to a $15 minimum wage, and has backed his plan to upzone neighborhoods across Seattle while establishing new affordable-housing requirements for developers.

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Murray dropped out of the race in May. The mayor later considered returning to the contest as a write-in candidate but ruled out that possibility last week.

At a news conference in Pioneer Square, vice president Sterling Harders, SEIU 775 vice president, said the union liked several candidates but chose Durkan because she’s “a fighter” for progressive causes and is best able to “unite diverse constituencies, like business, labor, environmentalists, tribal leaders, civil-rights leaders and neighborhood activists.”

Durkan pointed to SEIU 775’s endorsement in pushing back against critics, saying some opponents have labeled her “the business candidate” and her campaign as “the campaign of the establishment.”

“What is happening here today … proves that is not true,” she said, arguing she can help business and labor work together.

Durkan is unquestionably preferred by business power brokers. The political arms of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Seattle Hotel Association and Seattle Restaurant Alliance recently contributed a combined $50,000 to People for Jenny Durkan, the independent-expenditure committee reported Monday.

On Tuesday, the Unite Here! Local 8 hotel-workers union announced that five leading mayoral candidates had signed a statement calling on hotel-industry groups to end their court fight against hotel-worker rights approved by Seattle voters last year.

The groups are appealing a King County Superior Court judge’s decision last month to dismiss their lawsuit seeking to undo the protections enacted by Initiative 124.

Jessyn Farrell, Bob Hasegawa, Mike McGinn, Cary Moon and Nikkita Oliver signed the statement. Durkan was asked to sign and did not, Local 8 spokeswoman Abby Lawlor said.

“I voted for Initiative 124. I support the will of the voters,” Durkan said in a statement Tuesday.

She added, “While the opponents of I-124 have a right to appeal, it’s not a decision I would make given the clear dismissal from the Superior Court judge.”

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