On July 27th, Reagan Dunn’s re-election campaign sent an email out to subscribers describing his opponents as “darlings of the Seattle establishment” and framing himself as the “last line of defense”. Despite these claims, it appears that Dunn has more connections to Seattle than any other candidate in his position. This tactic represents a continuation of GOP candidates weaponizing language against opponents in an attempt to manufacture fear and activate their base, a tactic which has become reflective of conservative politics in the Trump era.
Reagan Dunn’s campaign has received more donations from Seattle than any other candidate in his race. His campaign by contrast has raised nearly $71,000 from Seattle, more than triple what the next candidate has received from Seattle contributions (Franco for King County with $21,000). As the district is not in Seattle, none of the candidates reside there either. To portray these candidates as part of a Seattle establishment is politicizing and other-ing our neighbors, perhaps even a modern dog-whistle.
The language used by Dunn, Trump, and other Republicans attempt to paint Seattle as a haven of crime, poverty, and corruption. For Reagan, this directly casts his opponents as outsiders from a connected group (the “Seattle establishment”) in order to play on and heighten fears from, mostly white, suburb and rural populations. The purpose is to connect the candidates to the very real housing and addiction crises faced by the nation in hopes that voters will perceive Reagan as a hometown hero preventing Seattle politics from coming to the district. This fear is driven in part by the increase in diversity in these regions and the loss of conservative, white voters in the area.
The portrayal of Dunn as a hero against Seattle erases his history as a councilmember opposing solutions that are proven to resolve issues and uplift communities, even in his own district. Where some might see a councilmember standing up to a fictional Seattle establishment, others see a grandstanding, do-nothing politician. For instance, Reagan Dunn this year has been the only voice to oppose giving frontline workers hazard pay, and on other issues he has been alone in opposing solutions. One might speculate if refusing to act on issues facing our communities while painting them as crime-ridden and corrupt is a self-serving interest.
Contrary to his email, Dunn, more than any other candidate in the position, has financial support from the Seattle “establishment”. Voters deserve a councilmember and candidate who refuses to use the same playbook as Trump and who will provide solutions to problems rather than parroting ideologically-based catch phrases.
For claiming to be the last line of defense for our law enforcement, it shouldn’t go without notice that Reagan Dunn has a prominent extremist leader, Chris Wisnowski, featured on his endorsements page from the III%, a group that was at the attempted insurrection in January where many officers were injured by the extremists. Playing with extremism and utilizing polarizing language to make opponents look like outsiders is dangerous, as we are currently reminded with headlines about the 1/6 Commission over the assault on Washington D.C., and Dunn should be reflecting on that.