EVERETT — An alliance of progressive groups is changing sides in its choice for the next mayor of Everett.
The Snohomish County Republican Party is taking sides in the same contest.
And the earnest write-in candidate is giving the public its first peek at how much money he’s spending to win the seat.
These are among the most recent developments in the race to succeed Mayor Ray Stephanson as the political voice and chief administrator of the most populous city in Snohomish County.
Both are Democrats but a decision by Fuse Washington to switch its recommendation from Franklin to Tuohy in its Progressive Voters Guide is giving Tuohy supporters a chance to instill doubt about Franklin’s political bonafides.
The group strongly endorsed Brian Sullivan in the primary and included a “nice mention of Cassie because she had a couple of nice endorsements,” explained Collin Jergens, communications director for the group which describes itself as the state’s largest progressive organization.
It changed its endorsement to Tuohy after some of the 25 partners —which include labor unions, firefighter councils, environmental organizations and civil rights groups — questioned Franklin’s hiring of a campaign manager who led the 2014 campaign of conservative Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner of Spokane. Jergens said endorsements are primarily based on what a majority of partner groups want.
That was “a red flag for us,” Jergens said. “We heard concerns from our partners. We thought it was fair to include so our members would have the full picture. We don’t think Cassie Franklin is conservative by any means. We heard she might be as progressive as others in the race.”
In an email to Fuse leaders, Franklin said she was “alarmed” they did not contact her campaign manager to ask about her political views. And Franklin also cited the support she has from Fuse partners including Equal Rights Washington, NARAL and Planned Parenthood.
“My campaign certainly doesn’t have ties to Senator Baumgartner,” Franklin said in an interview. “I was pretty angry that my campaign manager would be judged by the beliefs and actions of a previous employer. It’s really disappointing to see a progressive organization so quick to judge a young professional woman as not capable of having her own independent thoughts.”
Tuohy, in an email, said she was honored to be included in the guide.
“Their criteria for recommending a candidate includes ‘supporting candidates who have outstanding leadership qualities and will fight for working people, a healthy environment, and a better future for our children,’ and supporting candidates running against conservatives,” she wrote.
As to the assertions about Franklin’s campaign manager, Tuohy wrote: “I think the candidate should use whomever she can rely on and who shares her values in key campaign positions.”
Meanwhile, the Snohomish County Republican Party included Franklin on its list of “General Election Picks” then removed her name Thursday amid questions of whether this amounted to an endorsement.
“There’s been absolutely no endorsement by the Republican Party of either candidate,” said Debra Blodgett, chairwoman of the county party. She declined to say why the mayoral candidate made the party’s list of recommended candidates.
Franklin said she saw it as recognition of her ability to work across political lines.
“I am a strong Democrat. I am strong social-justice Democrat,” Franklin said. “But as mayor I need to serve the whole community. I’m happy to have the support of Democratic elected leaders and Republican leaders.”
Meanwhile, the declared write-in candidate is giving the public its first peek at how much money he is spending to win the seat.
Gary Watts, owner of two auto service shops in Everett, has put $41,000 of his own money into the campaign and spent $27,410, according to reports filed Oct. 25 with the Public Disclosure Commission.
He said he’s sent out two mailers, produced four cable television commercials and is running ads in The Daily Herald. There also are longer commercials online, he said.
Those investments are increasing his profile among voters though winning remains a longshot.
“I’m smart enough to know that without having my name on the ballot my chances of winning are infinitesimally small,” he said. “I certainly would never give up. We’ve gone too far.”
He said he’s kind of won already because issues he’s raised are a focus of other candidates.
“I’ve pretty much accomplished my objective,” he said. “One of the candidates (Tuohy) has made statements and commitments that are close to satisfying what I perceive is necessary to deal with the biggest public safety issues. I don’t know if that candidate has the political will to carry it out.”
On Friday, Tuohy said before Watts filed as a candidate he asked to see her plan for public safety when finished. At the time she said she was still researching and writing it.
“Once I had finalized my plan, I offered to share it with Mr. Watts,” she wrote in an email.
As to his influencing her stance, she said: “I don’t think it had a big impact. Public Safety has always been my number one priority, well before I met with Mr. Watts and as I said, I was deep in the process of researching solutions when he entered the race.”