Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels walks down a sidewalk while touring the South Lake Union neighborhood recently.
At first glance, Mayor Greg Nickels ought to fit Seattle as comfortably as a fleece vest from REI. The lifelong Democrat hopped on Barack Obama's bandwagon with an endorsement last February. He's led the push for Sound Transit's soon-to-open light-rail line longer than any other local politician. He's been talked up in national magazines as a leader on global warming.
All causes dear to the hearts of Seattle's liberal electorate. Yet as he seeks a third term, Nickels confronts a city seemingly itching to try someone else on for size.
Several polls in recent months have found the mayor's popularity in the dumps. A Survey USA poll for KING-TV, released April 6, found just 34 percent of 500 Seattle adults surveyed approved of Nickels' job performance, while 58 percent disapproved. Another recent poll had former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck thumping Nickels in a head-to-head matchup.
Despite all the discontent, it's not at all clear whether Nickels will face a formidable opposition campaign in the fall. Several potentially interesting candidates have backed away — most notably Steinbrueck, who announced Friday he'd won an urban-design fellowship at Harvard University.
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