Kshama Sawant, a self-proclaimed socialist incumbent running for Seattle city council, lost her seat after Amazon poured approximately $1.5 million behind her more moderate Democratic challenger, Egan Orion.
“We are engaging in this election because we want Seattle to have a city government that works. Seattle deserves a council that delivers results for all of its residents on issues that matter, like homelessness, transportation, climate change, and public safety,” said Amazon spokesman Aaron Toso.
To no surprise, Sawant was angered by Amazon’s involvement in the local election. Amazon, whose headquarters are in Seattle, would not stand to benefit from her socialist agenda. However, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, is a lifelong Democrat and has long poured money into left-leaning politics.
“Jeff Bezos and his fellow billionaires have gone to war with this city, and in this year’s city council elections, they are attempting to straight up buy their candidates, and do a hostile corporate takeover of City Hall,” Sawant said in a NowThis video.
Amazon has dumped more money into the Seattle City Council election than any group has ever spent on city politics—$1.5 million.
— Jackson C Davis (@JacksonCDavis) November 5, 2019
Amazon’s involvement with city council elections sparked outrage from progressive 2020 presidential candidates as well.
“Jeff Bezos and Amazon think they can buy elections… Show Amazon that they can’t buy our democracy and that their corporate greed won’t stand. Get out and vote,” Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted.
Jeff Bezos and Amazon think they can buy elections.
Show Amazon that they can't buy our democracy and that their corporate greed won't stand. Get out and vote!
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 5, 2019
Despite being a self-proclaimed capitalist, socialist-in-hiding Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted her solidarity with socialist city council members.
“Surprise: Amazon is trying to tilt the Seattle City Council elections in their favor. I’m with the Seattle council members and activists who continue standing up to Amazon. Corporations aren’t people, and I have a plan to get big money out of politics,” Warren tweeted.
Surprise: Amazon is trying to tilt the Seattle City Council elections in their favor. I'm with the Seattle council members and activists who continue standing up to Amazon. Corporations aren't people, and I have a plan to get big money out of politics. https://t.co/XiVQVQfQ0P
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 19, 2019
This city council race highlights the internal faction between the progressive left and the Democratic establishment. Sawant and Bezos fall on the same political side of the aisle, yet there is such a large chasm between progressives and liberals, they seem to be losing sight of who the one opponent they have in common–Republicans.
The infighting between progressives and liberals is also indicative of the national 2020 Democratic race. Support in the primary teeters between liberal Democratic establishment candidate Joe Biden and progressive candidates like Warren and Sanders.
Democrats are truly fighting for the soul of their party and whether they will dive into a progressive socialist agenda, or allow establishment candidates to pull in centrists.
The Seattle City Council race demonstrates how Democrats may need to appease woke capitalist companies like Amazon if they want to win elections.