Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 12, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: “Whatcom Wins” and the 2015 Mayoral Race

Hello Loyal Readers,

Another week under our belt as we catapult through this campaign cycle. Actually, I’ve been intrigued by how slowly this campaign season has unfolded. With almost no primary races of note (sorry At-Large B’ham and School Board), the county and port races have proceeded at a rather sluggish rate.

In previous years, county campaigns would have hired campaign managers and launched their kickoff by late May, yet this year the campaigns are wrapping up the last couple of kickoffs (Bill Knutzen and Ken Mann) this week. Building a solid campaign organization, with a network of volunteers, resources and fundraisers, takes time and I don’t fault any of the campaigns for the slower pace, I just found it an amusing departure from years past.

Packed House at the Whatcom Wins kickoff

Packed House at the Whatcom Wins kickoff

On the other hand, the “Whatcom Wins 2013” coordinated campaign office held an open house yesterday. This is one of the first times a local slate of candidates has created a full-scale coordinated campaign (with staff and office space in the Bellingham Herald building). Usually, this is standard procedure for even-year elections and in Whatcom County is usually funded by Rep. Rick Larsen or some combination of statewide candidates (governor, senator, president, etc). However, to invest these sorts of resources for County Council and port races highlights their significance. Boots on the ground, recruiting volunteers and directly communicating with the voters is, in my opinion, the most effective way to invest money in a political race.

I speculate about the sort of impact this investment will have on the 2015 mayoral race. This sort of large scale investment has a fantastic trickle down effect. You build lists of volunteers, you identify voters and give young campaign managers experience handling complex campaigns. These resources do not just disappear, they will be used in 2015 by whoever is running for mayor.

Kelli Linville at Occupy Bellingham

Kelli Linville at Occupy Bellingham

I know, I’m jumping ahead a couple years, but I’m already hearing rumors. The big question will be whether Kelli Linville decides to run for reelection. If she does, there are very few people who would be able to mount an effective campaign against her, however, if it is an open seat, there will be no shortage of candidates.

With both Dan Pike and Michael Lilliquist declining to run for mayor in 2015 and Stan Snapp, Gene Knutsen and Terry Bornemann retiring from public service, that just leaves Cathy Lehman and Seth Fleetwood as the remaining city officials with a public profile. Of course, in a town this size, you do not need a public profile two years in advance to run for mayor . . . but it definitely helps. You could delve into runners-up from previous years (Dan McShane or Clayton Petree – provided he doesn’t win a council seat this year) or perhaps some of the fresh candidates this year.

No matter how the 2013 election unfolds, the amount of effort spent will pay dividends in 2015 and beyond.

Stay tuned next week for my coverage of the Tea Party forum and more details about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that brought us the Marijuana Moratorium in Bellingham.



  1. Riley old boy, I don’t leave until December 31st 2017 but you are right after this election my name will never be on a ballot again. keep up the great work!!!

    • Thank you! Hence, crossed off the list of likely candidates.

  2. I think I can safely say my husband is happy as a geologist and not likely to run for public office again!

    (I write to quickly quash and squelch any rumors to the contrary.)

    The only names I hear are Pike and Lilliquist. I hope Kelli runs again.

    • I figured as much but thank you for the clarification. Both Dan Pike and Michael Lilliquist have told me directly that they are not running for mayor in 2015. They are always free to change their mind, but that is what they told me.

  3. Ditto Lisa!!! Kelli in 2015!!!

  4. FYI: The Coordinated Campaign is for the County Council races only, not Port.

  5. Thanks for the info. Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2013 16:23:19 +0000 To:

  6. Nobody else hear the name Seth Fleetwood?

  7. While I am no unflagging fan of Dan Pike, I sure wish he was still our mayor. Would be nice to have a leader who says that they’re against coal, and then actually walks the talk.

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