I-522 defeated; Murray next Seattle mayor

SEATTLE — Voters in Washington state have rejected a ballot measure requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The campaign over Initiative 522 drew millions of dollars from out of state and was one of the costliest initiative fights in state history.

The measure was failing 54 percent to 46 percent after more ballots were counted Wednesday evening, with the “yes” side trailing by almost 100,000 votes.

Had voters approved I-522, Washington would’ve been the first state to put in place labeling requirements for genetically modified foods. The opposition raised $22 million to defeat the measure.

Money came from Monsanto Co., DuPont Pioneer and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which collected millions in donations from the nation’s top food companies, including Nestle SA, General Mills Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. Many of those companies mounted a $46 million defense to defeat a similar food-labeling measure in California last year.

Supporters of I-522 have raised about $7.9 million, backed by Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, natural food companies and consumer groups.

Only about 6 percent of the approximately $30 million raised by both camps came from within Washington state, according to campaign finance reports.

Most GMO crops such as field corn and soybean are used for animal feed or as ingredients in processed foods including breakfast cereal, potato chips, baked goods and sodas.

Supporters say consumers have the right to know what’s in the food they buy, while opponents say the measure would lead to higher food costs.

Murray defeats McGinn in Seattle mayor’s race

The leader of Washington state’s successful effort to legalize gay marriage is now set to become Seattle’s next mayor.

Updated election results Wednesday night showed state Sen. Ed Murray winning the race with 56 percent of the vote.

Mayor Mike McGinn’s campaign had held out hope that later ballots would trend in his favor. While the numbers showed some slight improvement for him Wednesday, he was still losing among those more recent ballots.

Murray said the victory is a sign of a city craving leaders who will bring people together to solve problems.

“We want Seattle to be an example of how government can function,” he said.

A spokesman for McGinn said the mayor would hold a news conference Thursday morning.

The two candidates had largely campaigned with similar policy positions, but they offered contrasting styles of how to lead the Northwest’s largest city. Murray’s call for a more collaborative approach led him to build a broad range of endorsements and financial support.

Murray is a longtime state lawmaker who for years led efforts to legalize gay marriage in the state, which was approved by voters last year. He will become Seattle’s first openly gay mayor.

Murray said there is significance in that milestone since there are limited numbers of openly gay elected officials. He said it is particularly significant for young gay and lesbian people who live in isolation.

In their campaign to court the left-leaning voters, the two mayoral candidates embraced ideas such as a $15 minimum wage, new taxes and legal marijuana. They each have lengthy backgrounds championing liberal causes in the Seattle area.

Before becoming mayor, McGinn was an activist with the environmental group Sierra Club, and he has continued to stake out a message of environmental stewardship. McGinn often rides his bike around Seattle, is pushing for pension fund money to be divested from coal companies, and is an advocate for expanded transit services.

Murray said McGinn’s approach during his first term has alienated groups and political leaders in Olympia, making it harder for Seattle to win support for its priorities. McGinn had questioned Murray’s effectiveness given that a Republican-dominated majority now controls the state Senate.

Combined, Murray and McGinn raised and spent more than $1 million, with Murray leading the money race by a few hundred thousand dollars.

Republican maintains lead in state Senate race

Republican Jan Angel increased her lead over Democrat Nathan Schlicher as counties updated their vote tallies for the Senate’s 26th District race.

Angel held a 52-48 percent lead over Schlicher Wednesday, increasing her lead from 770 votes on Tuesday to 1,237 after additional returns were posted by Kitsap and Pierce Counties. Because Washington state votes by mail, counting will continue throughout the week as ballots continue to arrive.

A predominantly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus currently controls the Senate with the help of two Democrats, giving the majority caucus a one-vote advantage in the chamber, and Republicans hope to gain another seat to give their caucus more cushion heading into the 2014 election, when about half of the Senate will be up for re-election.

The race has been the most expensive legislative contest in state history, with combined spending of more than $2.9 million.

SeaTac minimum wage initiative keeps lead

An initiative to create a $15 minimum wage for many SeaTac workers is maintaining a narrow lead.

Updated vote totals released Wednesday showed the measure passing with 53 percent of the vote. Because of the city’s small size, the gap is only a matter of a couple hundred votes. Since ballots only needed to be postmarked by Tuesday, more votes will be counted in the coming days.

The campaign in SeaTac drew national attention from both labor unions and business groups.

The proposal requires a $15 minimum wage for many workers in and around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Proponents say the plan will support the local economy while opponents express concern about the impacts on businesses.

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