Jul 11, 2022 - News

Democrats say prosecutor candidate Ferrell isn't a Democrat

Photo of Jim Ferrell
Jim Ferrell. Photo courtesty of Jim Ferrell campaign

Washington Democrat Party chair Tina Podlodowski has lashed out at Jim Ferrell — one of two candidates vying for the open King County prosecutor's seat — claiming he's deceptively campaigning as a Democrat while aligning himself with Republicans.

  • "It's pretty clear that Jim is courting their base and running as a Republican and does not share values that we have in our party, even though he is calling himself a Democrat," Podlodowski told Axios.

The other side: Ferrell fired back, telling Axios he not only has been a devoted Democrat for more than a decade, but calling Podlodowski's remarks "inappropriate."

  • "I am a pro-choice, pro-labor, pro-environment Democrat. I also happen to believe that someone who commits a crime should be held accountable," Ferrell said.

Why it matters: Elected prosecutor is a nonpartisan position, but in blue-leaning King County where Seattle and its progressive voters dominate, Democratic affiliations can give candidates a boost.

Context: With Satterberg opting not to seek re-election, Ferrell and opponent Leesa Manion — who both identify as Democrats — are embroiled in the first competitive race for the office since 2007.

Driving the news: Ferrell, a one-time Republican who switched parties in 2012 before successfully running for Federal Way mayor, initially was given access to state Democrats' "VoteBuilder" database to help his campaign against Manion.

  • After a flier surfaced in May promoting the annual "Patriot Gathering" fundraiser for GOP candidates and listed Ferrell, Podlodowski temporarily barred him from using the database while she reviewed his campaign activities.

The latest: Podlodowski said she has since determined Ferrell's campaign has direct ties with GOP campaign professionals and activists.

The intrigue: Due to concerns over his allegiances, Podlodowski said Ferrell's campaign was notified he'd been permanently barred from the party database, which helps candidates identify and contact Democrat-leaning voters.

Meanwhile, King County Democrats, which have endorsed Manion, won't support or participate in any events to promote Ferrell's campaign, chair Shasti Conrad said.

Yes, but: Ferrell on Friday disputed that Podlodowski or other party officials contacted him about the decision.

  • He added he never gave permission to the Patriot Gathering fundraiser to use his name, nor did he participate in that event.
  • Since switching parties, Ferrell said he's been an elected Democratic precinct committee officer for 10 years and received multiple endorsements from prominent Democratic officials and groups.
  • He also denied that his campaign includes Republican-affiliated contractors, pointing to his consultant, Dean Nielsen — a longtime Democrat.

Reality check: Ferrell's reported campaign spending confirms he's used Nielsen's firm, but also shows he's paid the campaign treasury firm of Jason Michaud, who worked on several prominent Republican campaigns.

What they're saying: "I don't feel that I can trust him and frankly, I don't feel he should be running for the prosecutor's position given how he's conducted his campaign," Podlodowski said.

  • "If anyone can't be trusted, it's Tina Podlodowski," Ferrell said. "I received no notice about this whatsoever. It's outrageous."
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