A three-way battle for Seattle City Attorney: Pete Holmes just ahead of two challengers :: NPIs Cascadia Advocate


As the end of Filing Week drew near a few months ago, the name of three reigning Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes was listed alone under the heading for that office, with apparently no challengers in sight and one formerly prominent challenger pulling out of race weeks had plans.

Then, as the Friday afternoon deadline drew nearer, two opponents finally emerged: Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Ann Davison.

Both challengers are right behind Holmes as the voting in the top two elections begins in August 2021, with 53% of likely voters unsure who to vote, according to a new poll by the Northwest Progressive Institute.

Holmes has a trail, but it’s very small.

There’s just not much of a gap between his candidacy, which received 16% support, and that of Thomas-Kennedy and Davison, who each had support from 14% of those polled.

A picture of NPI poll results for Seattle City Attorney, 2021

Holmes was easily re-elected in 2017 and 2013, but this year could be a different story as our survey results suggest. Dissatisfaction with Holmes led both the Seattle Times and The Stranger to recently endorsing his opponents.

The Times chose Davison while The Stranger chose Thomas-Kennedy.

“Davison faces great opportunities; Holmes received 74.5% of the vote in 2017, ”the Times editors noted in their endorsement.

Long odds? Maybe, maybe not. Each of the possible matchups in the general election seems to be options on the table at this point: Holmes vs. Davison. Holmes versus Thomas-Kennedy. Thomas-Kennedy versus Davison.

With the candidates so close together and so many voters undecided, there is no way of knowing who will get through.

What is striking, however, is that an incumbent who received three quarters of the votes when he was last re-elected and has been in office for twelve years only finds 16 percent of those eligible to vote three weeks before the election day.

Our top two election poll conducted by Change Research for the Northwest Progressive Institute has a modeled error rate of 4.3% with a confidence interval of 95%. All 617 respondents participated online. The poll was in the field from Monday, July 12, 2021 through Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Here are the exact questions we asked and the answers we received:

QUESTION: Candidates for the office of city attorney this year are listed below in the order they appear on the top 2 election in August. Who are you voting for?

[See list of can­di­dates as it was shown to respon­dents]


  • Not sure: 72%
  • Pete Holmes: 11%
  • Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: 9%
  • Ann Davison: 8%

FOLLOW-UP ASKED BY UNDECISONED VOTERS ONLY: If you had to choose, who would you choose?


  • Not sure: 73%
  • Ann Davison: 8%
  • Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: 7%
  • Pete Holmes: 6%
  • Wouldn’t choose: 5%


  • Not sure: 53%
  • Pete Holmes: 16%
  • Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: 14%
  • Ann Davison: 14%
  • Wouldn’t vote: 4%

Among the undecided voters who made a choice on the follow-up question, Davison was the first choice, followed by Thomas-Kennedy and then Holmes, with little gap between the candidates. This is yet another indication that Holmes’ re-election campaign could get into trouble.

Having won re-election by a large margin in the past, Holmes can afford to lose something Support and return to office for a fourth term.

But here, too, it is noteworthy that the Change Research voters we interviewed did not come to Holmes (no pun intended).

The three candidates each have different priorities in their campaigns.

Thomas-Kennedy works on a platform to decriminalize poverty, communal self-determination, green infrastructure, law for the people and to end sweeps.

“Every year, the city attorney chooses to prosecute minor offenses arising from poverty, addiction and disability,” it says on their website. “These law enforcements are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the city millions each year.”

“We need to get rid of this wasteful system of criminal punishment.”

Davison names goals such as “focus on improving efficiency within the department with regard to zoning” and “transforming the existing mental health court into a specialized behavioral health court for cases involving mental health, substance use disorder or double diagnosis” as their priorities Civil Section and the Criminal Section if chosen.

“The city attorney is an important link in public safety, both downtown and in our neighborhoods, deciding when to prosecute many types of criminal activity. We need balanced leadership that makes us smart in dealing with crime: proactive instead of reactive, ”it says on their website. “We need a collaborative leader who has real compassion.”

Davison was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for national office last year. She ran for lieutenant governor and was eliminated in the top two election.

The front page of Holmes’ re-election website notes his support in the Fuse Progressive Voters Guide, which includes this opening statement: “There are two progressives running for the Seattle City Attorney who would bring different approaches to the office. Incumbent Pete Holmes has received more support from local leaders and our Progressive Voters Guide partner organizations. “

“If re-elected, Holmes has a progressive vision for the city attorney’s role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and the racial justice movement,” reads Fuse’s entry for the Seattle City Attorney candidate.

“His priorities include improving police accountability, gun safety and creating a level playing field in our legal system and in our city. To achieve these goals, Holmes suggests, among other things, passing stricter gun laws, reducing excessive violence by the Seattle Police Department, overturning marijuana charges, and housing people following a pandemic.

The ballot papers for the top two election in August must be returned by Tuesday, August 3rd at 8:00 p.m. A list of drop box locations in Seattle and throughout Martin Luther King Jr. County is available from King County Elections. Ballot papers can also be returned by mail from the United States, but we recommend that you use a mailbox.

NPI does not endorse or agree with any candidate running for elected positions in Seattle this year. No campaigns were involved in the design or implementation of this survey.


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