Analysis of Aug 14 primary -update

David Morgan, Pam Childers, Bruce Miller, Lumon May and Charles Bare were the big winners yesterday in Escambia County. Other winners were Steven Barry, Vicki Campbell, Larry Walker, Clay Ford, McCorvey and Jewel Cannada-Wynn. Wilson Robertson has a 40-vote lead over Jesse Casey, which will probably hold but there will be a recount. I had earlier reported McCorvey faced a run-off but Supervisor of Elections David Stafford emailed and reminded me that it was a partisan race so there is no runoff.

Sheriff’s race
Sheriff David Morgan trounced challenger John Powell, putting to rest any takeover ambitions by the old guard from the Ronnie Mac days. Morgan won with the largest percent, 77 percent, of any candidate yesterday and with 10,000 more votes than he received in the 2008 GOP primary against McNesby. Morgan has a clear mandate to complete his changes at the sheriff’s office.

Clerk of Court And What It Means For Holley & Jones
Pam Childers had one of the most enthusiastic campaigns yesterday, only Lumon May matched her ground game the day of the election. She soundly defeated longtime incumbent Ernie Lee Magaha, 20,843 to 9,559. Magaha refused to debate Childers at most of the forums around the county. When he did show up, it didn’t go well.

The fact that Magaha was receiving his pension and a paycheck –double-dipping — didn’t play well with the voters in Escambia or Santa Rosa County, where another longtime clerk of court, Mary Johnson, lost to Don Spencer for much the same reason.

This doesn’t bode well for Escambia County Tax Collector Janey Holley who is also double-dipping and faces Mike Whitehead in November. Holley is a Democrat, Whitehead a Republican—party politics could also play a role in the outcome. The big question –will the voters forgive Whitehead for the Touart-McNesby days?

Logan Fink’s loss to Vicki Campbell in the ECUA District 1 primary shows that voters have long memories—still not willing to overlook that Fink fought curbside recycling when he held the post in 2008. Whitehead shouldn’t get too confident.

Tax Appraiser Chris Jones is the other Democrat facing a Republican challenger, Charles Green. He may have an easier time than Holley, but he can’t take the race for granted.

Public Defender
Bruce Miller defeated incumbent James Owens. Miller received 55 percent of the vote. Owens’ strategy of not publicly responding to the negative press on his administration flatly didn’t work. When he did finally run a few attack ads in the last weeks of the campaign, it was too little, too late. The News Journal called this race correctly.

Escambia County District 3
Lumon May won with 69.17 percent of the vote–nearly 7 points and 400 votes more than the incumbent Marie Young did in the 2008 primary against much weaker competition. May’s campaign volunteers were everywhere on Tuesday. His primary victory party was as diverse a celebration as any in the county. The same coalition of African-American leaders and ministers that elected Ashton Hayward mayor in 2008 once again showed that they have the klout.

Pensacola City Council
Charles Bare proved once again the city council races are won by knocking on doors, not with money. Bare had a nice lead when the early voting and absentee ballots were counted and held on to it. Sam Hall –whose campaign was better known as “Operation Weekend At Bernie’s”– failed to reconnect with the voters. Enthusiastic young campaign workers and last-minute behind-the-scene support from Mayor Hayward weren’t enough.

Jewel Cannada-Wynn won District 7 with fewer votes than most high school class president elections –521 votes. Hayward better start courting her now because, with Hall’s loss, the mayor is losing the block of votes that has passed all his initiatives during his first 19 months.

What do these wins tell us about the District 3 and 5 races? Historically both districts have put incumbents back in office. We think the Bare-campaign formula is the winning strategy —knocking on doors and engaging the voters—and will be the difference maker in both races, especially if Mayor Hayward again stays on the sidelines.

Who are the best political campaigners?

Travis Peterson’s Impact Campaigns: 2-1 Wins: Childers, May Loss: Hall
Jim Grimes’ Southern Media: 1-0 Win: Robertson (but there will be a recount)
Open Market Research: 0-4 Losses: John Powell, Logan Fink, Jim Taylor, Jesse Casey (pending recount)

Of course, it takes good candidates to win. Peterson had some of the best.
Other notes:

Steven Barry’s win in the Escambia County District 5 race is good for the entire county. Barry will fight for his district, but should be more progressive than the commissioners from that district have been in the past. Barry nosed out Sam Archer by 249 votes. Archer spent $29.52 per vote he received, most of his own money. It may be awhile before Archer pays his delinquent property taxes.

Santa Rosa County voters kept their county commissioners – Don Salter, Lane Lynchard and Jim Williamson – their school superintendent, Tim Wyrosdick and Sheriff Wendall Hall. Clerk of Court Mary Johnson is out. The biggest upset, however, was long-time politico and current Santa Rosa Island Authority manager Buck Lee losing to newcomer Tappie Villane.

The other interesting race was State House District 2 where incumbent Doug Broxson beat Santa Rosa PYP founder Jayer Williamson, 8,982 to 7,005. Williamson was heavily supported by State Rep. Matt Gaetz from Okaloosa County – who has been trying to build a power base since he was elected in 2009. Apparently Gaetz’s influence doesn’t extend past the WalMart in Navarre.

Links to the unofficial election results:

Escambia County
Santa Rosa County