Seattle Mayor's Race Internet Battle

Updated:

Mike McGinn (left) and Ed Murray (right)
SEATTLE —

The battle over who gets to connect you to the Internet is now a last-minute issue in the Seattle mayor’s race.

Comcast cable has donated thousands of dollars to groups supporting challenger Ed Murray at a time when Mayor Mike McGinn is giving the competition a foothold in the city.

Mayor McGinn believes providing super-fast Internet to businesses and homes is key to keeping Seattle's economy growing.

So last year, he announced a pilot project with a company called Gigabit Square, which would lease the city's fiber optic lines.

Now, McGinn believes, cable company Comcast is striking back. "Right now their cable system is how Internet is provided to a lot of people," the mayor said, "and if you get fiber optic cable we're talking about competition and choice."

Records show a local Comcast vice president donated $500 to challenger Ed Murray's mayoral campaign. The company itself donated $700 to Murray's state Senate campaign, which was  then transferred to his run for mayor. In a statement, Comcast said, "The contribution was not related in any way to any actions of the current mayor, and was instead related to our previous support."
Comcast has also given thousands to independent political action committees that support Murray.

Murray also supports competition for broadcast Internet, so is there truly a difference between the candidates? "Apparently Comcast thinks so," McGinn said, “because they're giving thousands of dollars to independent campaigns to defeat me."

Donations aside, Ed Murray told us, "I would not limit competition in the city, I think we need to expand competition in the city." Murray says the mayor is trying to distract voters. "I think it's an attempt to distract from the lack of a record on the mayor's part by creating a false issue."

Murray's campaign said he supports a city-owned utility high speed Internet, but is concerned about the cost. It was cost concerns that led McGinn to abandon a similar effort early in his term.