Over the years the establishment has been very good about keeping tight control over their minions. It is well known when three or four candidates run for a Council seat it can result in some strange upsets. The most recent example was when Charlie Able won a Ward 1 seat with a little over 40% of the vote. It was slightly more than his establishment opponent. However the other establishment candidate drew away nearly 20% of the vote, making Able the first place finisher.
In the past the establishment has been good about ensuring their team fields only one candidate. If there were multiple candidates it often involved multiple independents which then cut into each other’s vote. We remember when Bob Murphy was first elected mayor with less than 50% of the vote against the 26-year-old young woman who led the “switch for the ditch” campaign. She lost because a third independent candidate drew away just enough anti-Murphy votes to rob her of a mathematical majority.
This year was shaping up to be different. Originally there were two establishment candidates in Ward 1 and Ward 3 and three in Ward 2 and Ward 4. This seemed to suggest the establishment was losing control over its candidates.
However, establishment party discipline now seems to have been restored. Jeslin Shahrezaei in Ward 1, Trish Merkel in Ward 2, Lisa Watkins in Ward 3 and Jon Ludwigson in Ward 4 have been persuaded to drop out of the 2017 race. It would be interesting to know what sort of enticements were offered to get these candidates to be good team players and play ball. The only remaining exception is in Ward 4, Democratic newcomer William Furman has remained in the race to oppose establishment candidate Ladawn Sperling and independent candidate David Skilling.
Furman’s democratic credentials may cut into Skilling’s unaffiliated standing which appeals to Democrats as well as his fellow Unaffiliates. Sperling is claiming to be a Republican despite the fact she supported Democrat Betty Boyd against Republican David Wiechman in the 2007 Ward 4 Council race and supported Democrat (parading as Unaffiliated) Adam Paul against Republican Ramey Johnson in the 2015 mayoral race.