For Amazon, the biggest prize in the current election would be unseating Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party who represents the Capitol Hill area and its surrounding neighborhoods, where many Amazon employees live. Her election was a driving force behind the city’s adoption of a $15 minimum wage five years ago, and she has been a relentless critic of the company, leading protests in front of its headquarters.
“For the business community, she has been such an irritance,” Ms. O’Mara said. “She pushed the conversation to the left further than before, opening up space for other officials” to bring up more progressive ideas, like the head tax.
The chamber’s PAC, fueled with Amazon’s cash, has spent almost twice as much on direct mail and canvassing in Ms. Sawant’s district as in any other race, campaign finance data shows. And that doesn’t include more than $16,000 that Amazon employees — largely executives — contributed to her opponent, Egan Orion. Jeff Wilke and Andy Jassy, who respectively run Amazon’s retail and cloud computing services, each maxed out the $500 that an individual can give, as did other Amazon leaders, including Jay Carney, who oversees lobbying and communications.
Local unions have put “hundreds of thousands of dollars” into the election, largely to candidates the chamber opposes, The Seattle Times reported in its coverage of Amazon’s contributions.
Ms. Sawant’s campaign has tried to turn Amazon’s opposition into an asset. “EMERGENCY! Amazon just dropped a $1 million bomb on Seattle elections — we can’t let Jeff Bezos buy City Hall!” her campaign declared on Twitter, in a post that including a link for donations.
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