Nickels overcame Sidran's two-to-one funding advantage and near-monopoly on press endorsements, and an aggressive campaign that focused on Sound Transit's lack of progress in building a light rail system. Sidran emphasized his "decisive leadership" as a three-term and often controversial City Attorney, while Nickels stressed his political experience as a King County Council member since 1987 and his commitment to "the Seattle Way" of public consultation and inclusion.
Both men had outpolled incumbent Mayor Paul Schell (1937-2014) and eight lesser challengers in the September 18 primary. The final general election tally was:
- Greg Nickels - 86,403
- Mark Sidran - 83,245.
In other general election results, City Council members Richard Conlin, Jan Drago, Richard McIver (1941-2013), and Nick Licata won re-election; Tom Carr was elected City Attorney over Edsonya Charles; and Lawrence Malloy defeated longtime Port of Seattle Commissioner Jack Block. Only 45 percent of eligible voters participated in the election.