Our Crazy Mayor's Race
These spectators watch and cheer but only on the pretty good chance that they'll see the mayors fall at least a few times and perhaps even sustain one of those picnic wrist sprains or bruised tailbones. Maybe they'll trip over each other! And there are the mid-event questions. Are those eggs raw? Will they break when a mayor bumbles over that bag of Kingsford Mesquite?
We have never yet put together a Crazy Mayors Race but that is roughly how it would be planned. We would be verrrry pleased if it came off so well.
But back to the Crazy Mayor's Race - with the proper apostrophe - the race for mayor which is becoming quite odd. This is for real.
In San Diego we have a tense post-election count proceeding ... ever ... so ... slowly ... because the current leader of the race is a write-in candidate. "Write-In" is leading the Crazy Mayor's Race, and the actual recipient of each write-in vote needs to be determined and verified.
"Write-In" is currently leading the two proper ballot-residing candidates by a scant 34% - 33% - 32% count but there are some 150,000 votes still to be counted, and only 70,000 or so have been verified to be for Donna Frye - Ms. In - the surprise Mayor-in-Waiting should everything remain the same. Crazy.
"Why is this Crazy?" you ask.
I'll explain. Donna Frye is the forever-Hippie, the contrarian outsider city council member representing the county coastal zones, the perennial nay vote and environmental activist voice of the powerless. In short, the proverbial thorn in the sides of the rest of the council and the mayor.
"That's not Crazy. Hey, if she wins she wins. Fair and square, it's a vote for change."
Well, yes and no. Donna wasn't in the Primary in March. She joined the race a mere 5 weeks before the election. Fair enough, but THIS election is the "run-off" election. The two candidates actually on the ballot were the top two vote-getters amongst 7 or 8 candidates in the primary election held this past March. Since no one received more than 50% of the vote in that contest, the City Charter requires a run-off with ONLY the top two finalists from the primary, in order to elect a mayor by a majority.
See the problem? Somehow, nobody saw this coming. Nobody knows what to do. At the end of the day the leader of this race will have nothing close to 50% of the vote. The City Municipal code, unfortunately, and in direct defiance of the City Charter, says that write-ins may join any election, primary or general. The City Charter is essentially the constitution of the city, yet the city code and it's own standard practices for the past 20+ years have ignored it's charge. So a lawsuit has been filed now, after the election and during the count. The City Attorney says that he saw this coming but since he represents the city, the defendant, he couldn't have very well run out and asked for lawsuits to stop all the nonsense.
The lawsuit questions the fairness of allowing a write-in candidate during a run-off election. This makes all the sense in the world. If the City Charter requires a majority to elect the mayor, and a primary election determines the two run-off candidates, it would be silly to allow any and all of the other losers to simply re-join the race as write-ins and repeatedly cause a non-majority result. Duh.
"So what now?" Well, we don't know. It looks like Donna, wife of the famous surfer Skip Frye, is perhaps crazy like a fox. The Stir-it-up Democrat knew that a simple and quick grass-roots strike against the two nearly-identical Republican candidates would naturally gain by splitting the conservative vote, and rise like a tasty swell with the incoming tide.
So stay tuned while we watch the Gnarly Crazy Mayor's Race.
*** UPDATE 17 Nov 2004: It's all about the Bubble.
As of today, with the lawsuits mostly dismissed, and 446,654 votes counted, the margin between "Write-In" and the incumbent Mayor Dick Murphy is a grand total of 886 votes. That's less than two tenths of 1% at this point. Luke was just discussing the importance of every single vote in his blog today. Good call.
But Wait... While Dick Murphy is trailing "Write-In" by a scant margin he is actually a couple thousand votes ahead of the number of those write-in ballots that have been verified for Donna Frye. It appears increasingly likely that Dick Murphy will be re-elected after all.
But Wait Again! The League of Women voters may now weigh in with their third lawsuit in this election because the registrar is not counting the write-in votes that did not fill in the bubble next to the write-in candidate's name. This was something of an issue before the election and one of Donna Frye's campaign slogans was "Make Your Vote Count. Fill In The Bubble."
This is great.