Updated: 11/6/2013, 9:00 a.m. PST
SEATTLE — The leader of Washington state’s effort to legalize same-sex marriage is poised to become the next mayor of Seattle.
In early returns counted Tuesday night, Ed Murray led incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn by a 56-44 margin.
“When you are a candidate you feel relief when you win. I look forward to moving forward and building a new administration,” Murray told KOMO News Radio early Wednesday morning.
More votes will be counted in the coming days since the state’s vote-by-mail ballots only needed to be postmarked by Tuesday.
Murray and McGinn had largely campaigned with similar policy positions, but they offered contrasting styles of how to lead the Northwest’s largest city. Murray’s call for a more collaborative approach led him to build a broad range of endorsements and financial support.
Murray spoke as if the race was settled at a jubilant campaign party Tuesday night and reiterated his message that the election w as a chance for the city to come together – both internally and with counterparts around the state.
“I think our message of having government function resonated with the folks,” he told KOMO Wednesday.
McGinn said he expects he will have to concede but said he wanted to wait and see more votes counted before doing so. He also asked his supporters to continue to press to hold Seattle to its ideals.
In their campaign to court the left-leaning voters, the two mayoral candidates embraced ideas such as a $15 minimum wage, new taxes and legal marijuana. They each have lengthy backgrounds championing liberal causes in the Seattle area.
Murray is a longtime state lawmaker who for years led efforts to legalize gay marriage in the state, which was approved by voters last year. He’s also led efforts to broker major deals in Olympia, such as two transportation revenue packages that were passed in 2003 and 2005. If elected, he would be Seattle’s first openly gay m ayor.
Murray said Wednesday morning he would make public safety and hiring a new police chief priorities. The Seattle Police Department is under a federal court-appointed monitor overseeing changes following Justice Department findings that officers routinely used excessive force.
Article continues belowBefore becoming mayor, McGinn was an activist with the environmental group Sierra Club, and he has continued to stake out a message of environmental stewardship. McGinn often rides his bike around Seattle, is pushing for pension fund money to be divested from coal companies and is an advocate for expanded transit services.
Murray said McGinn’s approach during his first term has alienated groups and political leaders in Olympia, making it harder for Seattle to win support for its priorities. McGinn has questioned Murray’s effectiveness given that a Republican-dominated majority now controls the state Senate.
Combined, Murray and McGinn raised and spent more than $1 million, w ith Murray leading the money race by a few hundred thousand dollars.
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