Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Look at the Numbers

For the Portland City Commissioner -- Position 1 race, I got the latest numbers and was pleased to see that John Branam dropped into fourth place. After paying his campaign manager double what other campaign managers make, it makes me wonder what good was it? The whole thing seemed like a massive fraud to begin with, like someone concocted a scheme to access $150,000 in taxpayer funds to run a race for City Council and hiring a buddy to run a campaign, paying him a cool $25,000 for three months work. Fleece the city and move on. One alternative weekly newspaper, in assessing the candidates, had called John Branam's campaign "trifling." Ouch, that had to hurt. That's perhaps one of the worst things you can say about a candidate. But I concur. There seemed little reason for him to run other than to offer his buddy a nice paid gig for three months at taxpayer expense and to pad a resume with this kind of experience. That Jeff Bissonnette managed to pull in more votes than Branam indicates to me that there is justice in Portland! I would have voted for Bissonnette if I hadn't discovered the Charles Lewis campaign two weeks before turning in my ballot. I hope Bissonnette will run for political office again.

Amanda Fritz

The front-runner who received a whopping 62,249 votes (44%). She was expected to come in first for the fact that this is her second campaign and that she's the only female running for this position. Her campaign seems to be little more than "we need to bust up the boy network in City Hall" and that's not a good reason to run. She'll be a formidable candidate though and has a good chance of winning. However, the numbers makes me wonder, especially when I heard some people mention that they voted for someone else simply so she couldn't get the 50% +1 to avoid a run-off. I'm glad, because with so many races, we need a bit more time for the candidates to make their case why they'd make a better City Commissioner.

Charles Lewis

Came in a distant second with 18,369 votes (13%). One of those votes is mine. While the gap is pretty large, you could easily say that the close votes between the three men (or even all five) might indicate a split among undecideds who don't want Amanda Fritz as City Commissioner. In 2004, Nick Fish (who won a clear majority with over 60% for another City Commissioner position) was forced into a run-off with Sam Adams. He had received more votes than Sam in the primary and then managed to lose the election in November. I'm hoping it will be the same with Charles Lewis. I'm hoping that the majority of voters who voted AGAINST Amanda will turn around and vote FOR Charles Lewis in November. That would be a great turn-around, but not altogether unexpected. Like I said, I see that the majority who voted against Amanda split their support among five men. Charles has slightly more name recognition than any of his male opponents, which is probably the reason why he came in second. Now, his challenge is to increase his name recognition and supporters for November. It's certainly do-able.

Jeff Bissonnette

He received 17,838 votes (12%). Had I voted on May 5th, he would've gotten my vote. What changed my vote was the eight page "scrapbook" political flyer I received in the mail from Charles Lewis. I wonder how many others were similarily swayed. The reason my vote changed was because Lewis' political mailer showed a depth to him that the media failed to do. Dismissing him as a Portland Duck Tour operator was wrong. Lewis has a background in politics. Had Bissonnette run for Erik Sten's vacated seat, I would've voted for him in that race. I certainly hope he'll run again.

John Branam

He received 17,528 votes (12%). I'd love to look at the numbers and see if his campaign was hurt at all by the lack of endorsements, the revelations of his paying a buddy double what normally is considered reasonable for campaign manager, his being named in a lawsuit by a disgruntled employee for being hired for a job he didn't qualify for (with a plush salary), and a newspaper dimissing his campaign as "trifling." Will he have a political future? That remains to be seen. But, I was glad to see him finish behind Lewis and Bissonnette.

Chris Smith

Mike Fahey received 14,987 votes (10%) and Chris Smith finished dead last with 13,383 votes (9%). All the people who voted for candidates three through six, I wonder who they will support in November. I'm hoping that a vote for one of the five candidates automatically translates into a vote for Charles Lewis in November. Or some could have been supporters of Amanda who wanted more time for her to make a case, and wanting to avoid giving her the victory she needed to avoid a run-off.

That makes this race one of the more interesting ones to watch in November (besides the Obama vs. McCain contest). This is like a new experience for me. I've never been interested in local politics before. I've been a globalist since childhood and my preferred politics is interesting races in other countries (such as South Africa's historic 1994 election). I always viewed local government as ineffectual, uninteresting, and irrelevant. What cured me of that was Republican domination of national government, which forced me to look for local candidates to support since I had no hope of the national political scene improving. Now, I'm hooked. Who becomes City Commissioner does make a difference at City Hall. May the best person win!

No comments: