'09 CITY COUNCIL ELECTION PREDICTION
By Darrell Day
Since no one has done any systematic polling of Richardson voters before Saturday's crucial election, I'm going to look into the future to make the predictions. Think Johnny Carson with his swami hat, blowing into an envelope.
These are NOT my choices or endorsements, but simply a prediction of who will win, based on their name ID and the type of campaigns they have waged.
Since the odds are slim that a write-in candidate can mount a serious challenge, Bob Townsend will win. Bill Denton ran neck-and-neck with Townsend two years ago, losing by less than 300 votes. But a write-in campaign is a long shot, and a candidate has to spend a lot of money to get out the word. There are lots of people who vote without really paying attention, or are well versed in some races but not this one. Also, some people typically try to vote for a write-in, but do it incorrectly and get their votes thrown out.
PREDICTION: TOWNSEND 59%, BILL DENTON 41%.
Mark Solomon has advertised heavily, while Jimmy Schnurr has burned up the shoe leather, visiting 3,100 homes of City Council election voters. Thomas Volmer hasn't mounted a serious campaign, and Jennifer Justice ran a low-budget campaign pitching herself to young voters. Justice made a smart move by sending out absentee ballots that were already filled out, and also has the advantage of being at the top of a long list of candidates. There's been an interesting dynamic with the Coalition's endorsement of Solomon. The nasty nature of the mailer prompted a slew of people to run their own voting guides - Jim Shepherd, Rhea Allison, homeowners presidents, Fire Fighters Association, etc. - with all endorsing Schnurr. (Shepherd recommended both Schnurr and Solomon.) The resulting backlash against the Coalition gave Shnurr a lot of attention that he couldn't have bought himself.
PREDICTION: SOLOMON AND SCHNURR IN A RUNOFF, SOLOMON 45%, SCHNURR 35%,
JUSTICE 15%, VOLMER 5%.
Interesting race, with long-time incumbent John Murphy against long-time neighborhood activist Chris Davis. Sheryl Miller joins the fray with her small but loyal cadre of supporters to push this race into a runoff. Forty-eight hours ago I would have predicted Murphy would have won without a runoff, but Davis' late-game mailer was very effective. The big question is
the nature of the large early voting. With 3,500 people voting early, does this mean that: A) six contested races just generate a lot of attention; B) the Coalition's mailer has brought out the pro-Slagel/Murphy forces; C) the Coalition mailer has backfired and inspired people to turn out in droves to dump Slagel's team, or D) the Muslim candidate Omar has inspired fellow Muslims to turn out in an election they often ignore? I would venture that "C" is the correct answer. If the Coalition's mailer had been - as it claimed - an objective rating of candidates, its professional appearance would have carried a lot of weight and it would have been effective. But it went over the line in its nastiness, and therefore probably backfired. Frowny-face, indeed.
PREDICTION: MURPHY AND DAVIS IN THE RUNOFF. MURPHY 48%, DAVIS 37%, MILLER
Fascinating race. The nature of the early voting is again the big variable. Slagel's support is probably a constant and we can assume that heavier than normal turnout means people other than his usual loyalists are turning out, and that's good news for Diane Wardrup. But Saturday's prediction of rain could lower turnout tomorrow and that's bad news for Wardrup. I'm digging
Tom Bache-Wiig's spirited campaign, and he was delightful at the debates, but he doesn't have the ground game to be a significant factor. Zacharias' last-minute Email campaign could help Slagel. Wardrup's direct mail has been effective, with almost every point in her piece a subtle dig at Slagel's reputation for back-room deal-making.
PREDICTION: SLAGEL AND WARDRUP IN A RUNOFF. SLAGEL 47%, WARDRUP 40%,
Bob Macy is well-known for his volunteer work, and has a strong number of signs in yards, but Pris Hayes will wallop him on the east side to win it. Hayes hasn't campaigned real hard, so this won't be the blowout it could have been.
PREDICTION: HAYES 54%, MACY 46%.
Scaring off the competition is the name of the game for Steve Mitchell.
This race has had more twists and turns than a Six Flags roller coaster. Omar has campaigned hard. Is there a plot of open ground in Richardson that doesn't have one of his signs? Like Slagel, the Coalition mailer has done the heavy lifting for him. Dennis Stewart has stated his case for reelection simply: incumbents don't get thrown out unless they're crooked, incompetent or been there too long, and none of those three circumstances apply to him. With 60% of Richardson's traditional City Council voters over 60 years old, a name like "Stewart" gets the button pushed more than a name like "Omar." Stewart has campaigned hard and pointed out that Omar has only lived here two years. The kiss of death in Richardson politics.
PREDICTION: STEWART 62%, OMAR 38%.
A most fascinating campaign season! It will either mark the rebirth of Slagel's career as Mayor, or signal a sea change of new Councilmembers and discrediting of the Richardson Coalition.