Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Rambling Thoughts on Primary Night

Here in Akron we have primaries going for City Council races. While flocks of candidates crowd the ballot, the election actually made only moderate noise, at least in my ward. Raymond Cox sent out a couple of mailers -- and that's pretty much it. A commenter some time ago went off on what a great asset he is to Council. In terms of knowledge, sure. In terms of any kind of constituent contact whatsoever, not so much. Three other candidates burned plenty of shoe leather canvassing. There have been no Ray Cox sightings, at least not by reliable witnesses.

Incumbency certainly means something, but the race I think comes down to Sandra Kurt vs. Bruce Bolden vs. Will Padilla. All three have great qualifications and any one would be a fine representative for the ward. (For that matter, Cox isn't bad, it's just that he doesn't do much and he certainly won't let us know if he does.) I expected a bigger canvassing push from Sandra. She did plenty of work, but I expected more volunteers. Padilla and Bolden did the same. I have no idea how this will turn out.

Unlike Ward 8, the At Large race results will Mean Something. This race, more than the recall, will measure the continuing viability of the Mayor's brand. The lopsided recall result was certainly in part a vote against recalling a mayor absent malfeasance. With three candidates running on a pro-Mayor slate and two competing slates promising to be less Plusquellic-friendly, this race is much more of a test. The administration took some grief when they announced budget shortfalls just after the recall election. Tonight will tell just how badly the Mayor's stock has slipped as a result.

The real surprise this cycle has been the pretty much stillborn campaign of Kelly Mendenhall -- no signs, no mailers, no voter contact I've heard of). Recall that Joe Finley spoke out against the recall, so his slate isn't necessarily alligned with the recall folks (though Citizens for Akron would have you believe differently.) Kelly Mendenhall therefore is the only candidate running under the Team Mulligan banner. Her lackluster campaign suggests that she attracted as much donor interest as the recall did.

Turnout is reported to be light, which isn't a surprise. Things were very quiet at my polling place which houses four precincts.

will be the best place for up-to-date results, though I'm disappointed they aren't streaming video tonight.


54cermak said...

Two Cox people (one of whom may have been the councilman himself) were in our neighborhood a few weeks ago and despite the presence of 2 registered Dems in our house and no competing sign in the yard, they walked right on by.

Jason Haas said...

At least on my street, all Ward 8 campaigns, minus Shank, visited in July or early August. After that, they were on to other precincts.

With her money advantage, Kurt went heavily toward mail in the last two weeks. That alone doesn't explain her margin, but it didn't hurt.

I think the at-large results show a few things:

1. Recall supporters, and those assumed to be, fared poorly. (I did see one Mendenhall mailer, and I kid you not, it was a Barbie theme). This also played out in the ward races where they all came up short. Kartler, for instance, finished last in Ward 6, Mohr was beaten by 40 points in 10, and no one else made a dent.

2. Name rec meant something: look at the top six and find that they all have recent elected service to their credit. Fusco's is getting on a ways, but he was at the forefront of the anti-recall effort and just retired from the city in the past 2-3 years.

3. Strength in 3-4-5 plus another ward was helpful. Omobien and Williams do well in 8, which added to their strength, helped. Albanese and Fusco in 6 and parts of 10. Shealey was doubled crossed by his former Ward 5: it's already among the stronger African American wards, so it doesn't add to 3-4-5, plus it's almost always the lowest turnout ward. If Jim had previously represented 7, for instance, he'd have finished much closer to third.

Just quick takes, though, and the theories could all be wrong.

Wayne In Akron said...

1) Congrats to you Pho for the early (and accurate) endorsement of Sandra Kurt.

2) How empowered will Mike Williams feel (and will Mayor Don question the wisdom of his stance) now that he's received the top number of At-Large votes in the face of Plusquellic's full court press funded by his $300,000 PAC warchest?

3) Looks like Ward 4's residents finally got Renee Greene out of office. Guess her 9-lives finally ran out.

Kyle said...

Pho, I agree that we had a field of strong candidates. That is what I like to see as a Democrat.

Overall turnout in the city was less that 12%. I suspect Ward 8 was a bit higher, but still low. The day after a three day weekend is a strange dynamic. It was the die hard voters that turned out. To them, the endorsement of the local party and the Summit County Progressive Dems is important. Also, people in Ward 8 still read the ABJ and their endorsement helps. Sandra went 3 for 3 with these key groups and it made a big difference. I think those endorsements complimented her years of building relationships within the party and in Akron. Congrats to Sandra and her campaign on a solid win.

Kyle said...

Scratch that city turnout number. I accidentally looked at the county statistics.

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand all this talk of a "$300,000 war chest" that the Mayor's PAC devoted to the campaign. After the recall, there was little money left, and the amounts raised for the primary were not so great; in fact, candidates on the Mayor's slate were expected to kick in significant $ for all of those large yard signs and mailers. That actually hurt some, who could have used that extra money effectively promoting their own name instead of pulling along people who probably couldn't win city wide or who weren't doing a damn thing on their own.