Press Talk: Another look at the elections

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 
photoLou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505 or lou.brancaccio@columbian.com. Twitter: http://twitter.com/lounews.

A few post-election observations:

The presidential race

Nine months ago, I wrote a column saying President Obama would win re-election.

So, why was it so obvious so early?

Back then — and in a follow-up column in August when I repeated the prediction — I said:

• The Republicans were way off message. They were talking about abortion and immigration and exactly how long it took God to create the Earth.

• Mitt Romney needed to have an epiphany on a major issue like taxing the rich more. Didn’t happen.

• When you look at these two guys together, Romney looks further right than Obama looks left. That translates to an Obama win.

Sign of the Times

Although I noted a small movement toward Commissioner Marc Boldt, I had said I saw challenger David Madore winning. Why?

In the end, it was a sign of the times.

Virtually the entire community power structure was against Madore. But Madore — who really is a bit of a loner — made connections with the working stiffs, especially the private-sector working stiffs. That was the difference.

Lots of connected community members look at Madore like he’s a kook. I’ve spent time with him, and he’s never come across like that to me.

Look, we’re not going to end up in a poker game together or down at the track betting the ponies. That makes him different than me — maybe some others — but not a kook.

It will be interesting to see how the commission plays out now. The other winner, incumbent Tom Mielke, is a conservative, and that swings the power from a “giveaway” commission to a “let’s take a second look at that expenditure” commission.

Whenever there is a power shift on a commission, there is automatic trepidation by employees. It’s a good bet with Madore being that power shift, there will be big-time trepidation.

Madore will be reasonable, but he won’t be pushed around. That will feel different for many.

Look for county employees to keep their heads low.

But back to the race. I said it would be close. So how did I get that part wrong? Madore won easily.

First, remember both Madore and Boldt are Republicans. The Democrats couldn’t get into the general election.

I wrongly thought the Democrats would swing to the more moderate Boldt, making it close. Instead, the Democrats felt disenfranchised and either stayed away or used their write-in option.

This changed the race from a close win for Madore to a runaway. Look at the math.

About 16,000 fewer people cast votes in the Boldt/Madore contest compared with the other commission race. Madore won by 9,000.

Parks

I said the parks district vote would go down. And it did. Once the public realized this was a shell game to give the city council more money to spend in its general fund, it was doomed.

The city council will try this again — the next time with the fire department. But it will likely be the same shell game. For it to win, the city would have to guarantee that it would reduce general spending by the amount a separate fire district would raise.

Yeah, right. That will happen.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, lou.brancaccio@columbian.com or Twitter: http://twitter.com/lounews.