Thursday, November 20, 2008

Goings and Lonergan Eliminated in August

In June, Calvin Goings and Mike Lonergan filed to run for Pierce County Executive. Both had been running active campaigns prior to this time. The County Executive race was a Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) race, and both candidates names went directly to the November general election ballot.

What would have happened if the County Executive race had been a Top 2 race like the state legislative races around the state?

All four candidates (Pat McCarthy, Shawn Bunney, Goings and Lonergan) would have filed to run. All four candidates would have appeared on the August primary ballot. And Goings and Lonergan would have been eliminated from the ballot after the primary. The first choices of voters in the November general election indicate that Bunney and McCarthy would have been the Top 2 candidates in the August primary.

The face-off between Bunney and McCarthy would have left the campaign less diverse and less lively. 38% of the voters had Goings or Lonergan as their first choice. These voters would have been disenfranchised by the Top 2 system.

This is particularly true of the Pierce County Democratic Party establishment; most of whom supported Goings' candidacy. Many of these Democrats were very disappointed by the strong relationship of both McCarthy and Bunney to the pro-development crowd. It was better for democracy for those Democrats to be able to express their views by supporting Goings all the way through the campaign.

The elimination of Goings and Lonergan in August would have happened with the Top 2. It would have weakened democracy. RCV strengthened the democratic process.



At 9:37 AM, Blogger Chad Lupkes said...

I'm going to quibble a little bit on your description of the primary. If Goings or Lonergan had been eliminated in August, it would have been clear to the party members that McCarthy was the official nominee for the Democrats and they would have gone all out to elect her after a short healing period. Because the county used IRV, the race continued through November, with all four candidates asking for 1st choice votes, something that too many people misunderstood because this was the first time using this system. I'm also hearing that Goings' campaign manager was not running an IRV campaign, but a full on "the other candidate is a bad choice" campaign. That hurt McCarthy and it's one of the reasons why the final tally is so close. The party candidates did not stick together.

The Top Two Primary has other problems that weaken democracy. But it's not quite fair to compare it with RCV. They are completely different systems with polar opposite campaign tactics.


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