Saturday, November 01, 2008

Muri's Musings on the Pierce County Executive Race

For more information on the County Executive race, see here.

By Pierce County Councilmember Dick Muri (R-Steilacoom)

2008 is a very interesting election year in our state and nationwide, but as interesting is our unique election contest for Pierce County Executive. This is the only Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) election in our nation which includes partisan offices.

The citizens committee which introduced RCV as a proposed county charter amendment legislation back in 2006 and which subsequently passed the voters in November 2006, has resulted in a new kind of campaign. One theory of why RCV is a better system is that it will lead to more cordial elections than Top 2 races. This is because if you are not someone's first choice, at least you want to be a voter's second choice. The campaign for county executive has not fully met this objective, though the campaigns are calm and polite compared to the governors contest.

Calvin Goings and Pat McCarthy have been campaigning against each other and automated telephone calls from the Mike Lonergan campaign sort of attacking Shawn Bunney's fiscal record were by my political thinking unexpected. My advice to Shawn Bunney from day one of his quest to be our next executive has been to take the high road, discuss his exemplary qualifications and to articulate a positive vision for Pierce County. Shawn has done that and for that reason his chance of winning this election have increased. The News Tribune Endorsement may be somewhat attributed to his positive and enthusiastic vision for our county.

In June of this year, after candidate filing, I made a confidential prediction on election results to a work colleague of mine which I will announce here with my reasoning. I predicted the results of first choice votes would be Bunney 38%, McCarthy 28%, Goings 22%, and Lonergan 12%. I figures Shawn would get the base GOP vote of 42%, minus 4% from Lonergan GOP supporters. McCarthy and Goings would split an enhanced Democratic base of 50%, with a slight edge going to Pat because she is the only woman in the race and has continuous county wide name recognition. Pat's name is everywhere, including in surveys with our ballots!! ; - )

I expected Cal Goings to out fund raise and to out work Pat, but she has a built in advantage. Though from my years of observations, Cal Goings is much more qualified than Pat to be our next county executive. Mike Lonergan, who I consider to be a good friend, is at a disadvantage by not having a major party label although it is not clear how this plays out in RCV elections.

Mike Lonergan has a loyal following that reaches across party lines, is somewhat Tacoma centric, and my initial estimate of 12% might be exceeded. I also predicted Mike Lonergan may have the most second choice votes, but that does not help a candidate if they don't get enough first place votes to make it past the first round.

OK, what will the results look like after the second round? Lonergan's 12% votes will be distributed as follows: Bunney 5.5%, McCarthy 2.5%, Goings 1%, No choice 3% (thus I give everyone a rounded 1% more). Thus it is now Bunney 44.5%, McCarthy 31.5%, Goings 24%. This then leads to a very close final contest, because I then redistribute based on Goings voters 2nd and 3rd choices (3rd used only if second choice was Lonergan), 14% to McCarthy, 4% Bunney, 6% No choice (thus 3% each to Bunney and McCarthy).

Final contest prediction, Bunney winner with 51.5% to McCarthy 48.5%. These calculations back in June were based on a 25% 2nd choice under vote. My discussions with voters, indicates the number could be much higher. If that is the case, that will enhance Shawn Bunney's chances for he will be the clear first place vote winner.

My numbers are of course just a seat of the pants "WAG" based on my "gut feel" back in June. It will be interesting to see how close I come to the actual results as they are tabulated in the following weeks. And the discussions on RCV will continue. Pierce County government offices should be moved to odd numbered years, joining other area municipalities. It works for the counties to our north! More on that thought at a later time.



At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dick Muri is one of those guys who knows the local scene and his predications are as good or better (perhaps unique) than any! probably on the mark also!


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