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Amazon's large spending on defeating the Socialist member of the Seattle City Council is not delivering

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As a socialist in the Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant is perhaps the most powerful local enemy of the city's largest private employer, Amazon.

She helped introduce a law on the minimum wage of $ 15 per hour that cost the company a lot. She was also a fervent proponent of a regulation to force large companies to pay an annual principal tax of $ 275 per employee to finance social housing and services for the homeless.

The city council also accepted that, but withdrew it a month later. To the delight of her left base, Sawant cast one of the two different voices and named Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos & # 39; our enemy & # 39 ;.

For Tuesday's urban elections, Amazon sought revenge by making huge contributions to city councils. But the efforts to support the business-friendly candidate against Sawant have apparently not been successful.

When the vote ended Tuesday, the advocate for small businesses and the LGBTQ community leader Egan Orion maintained a small lead. But while the post-in ballot papers were counted at the weekend, Sawant took the lead, with 51.57% of the vote for 47.95% of Orion, and claimed victory at a news conference on Saturday. In 2013, Sawant overcame an initial margin of 7 points to win her first two-year term.

Amazon, which employs around 50,000 people in the Seattle metro area, spent a record $ 1.5 million on City Council races through a political action committee managed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. It was the bulk of the more than $ 4 million that companies invested in the seven races.

The Seattle Times described Amazon's spending as a & # 39;money bomb. "

The impact of this remains to be seen. One possibility is that the expenses have had an adverse effect on and stirred sympathy for targeted candidates. Even Orion said at his election evening party that he was frustrated by "completely unnecessary" business donations, and added that if he won, he didn't want "the shadow of Amazon" hanging over him.

Starbucks, another business giants of the city, exerted a more subtle influence by donating much less money and supporting support for change in the nine-member council, said Joni Balter, a political analyst in Seattle. On Monday, employees stood in front of points of sale who handed out free coffee in paper cups with the text "Vote November 5" while a company spokesperson spoke with television reporters.

Jeanne Brooks, bakery sourcing manager at Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, gave free coffee to remind voters to vote in the November 5 elections.

(Richard Read / Los Angeles Times)

"They didn't talk about money entirely; they talked about coffee and" voting for change, "Balter said." It was a much more agile type of PR move. "

Amazon is being watched cautiously by many Seattle residents, who see the corporate giant as a force behind the rising cost of living and growing income inequality. The scale of the company's sudden entry into local politics is unprecedented, given its contributions of around $ 130,000 to candidates for the city council in 2015.

Sawant, with destructive rhetoric and a doctorate in economics, often hurls large companies and their local and global influence, and condemns corporate greed and the national two-party system. In 2013, she campaigned to raise the minimum wage and defeated Richard Conlin, a four-time incumbent.

She helped Seattle make the first major city to accept the minimum of $ 15 per hour that Amazon has extended to all of its employees across the country. The & # 39; main tax & # 39; initiative that she helped lead in 2017 would have cost Amazon more than $ 10 million a year.

As the legislation progressed, Amazon managers said they would stop the plans for a new downtown building and reconsider another one under construction, putting 7,000 or more jobs at risk.

Sawant suffered humiliation when a rally outside the company's headquarters was crashed by hard-working ironworkers who drowned her out and shouted, "No head load, no head load!"

At her election night Tuesday, Sawant said, "We must continue to fight to ensure that every vote of people without rights can count."

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