Longmont 2011 Election Post-Mortem

Well, regardless of how much I’m told how irrelevant I am, since LRod’s visits have skyrocketed leading up to and after the election, it appears some people must be curious on my take on Longmont’s recent election.  I was happy just making my award-winning (and about to win again) chili and listening to music (yep, all 80’s) – but I don’t want to let down my friends and enemas.  So here’s some initial observations.

In a word, the results so far are odd.  How about strange, or bizarre?  More like a little inconsistent.  I base my projections on what went on during the campaign season, and more importantly, early return numbers based on city wards, party affiliation of who’s voted so far, past turnout, past results, and current trends.  It appears at this time that the four races were basically split – with two candidates that the more left leaning faction supported winning and also two candidates supported by the more right leaning factions.

There are rumors of a nearly 50% voter turnout in Longmont, which would be quite high for an off year election.  The final numbers coming out of the Boulder County Clerk’s Office prior to the election had about 28% turnout up to that point.  In 2009 Longmont had a 37% turnout.  I assumed about 40%.  Based on that I projected 20,000 votes for the citywide races (Mayor, At-Large, etc) and I was pretty close in the Mayor race.  Considering Republicans were outpacing Democrats and, in my opinion, there are probably more right-leaning among the unaffiliated, I gave the right-leaning candidates the edge.

For Ward 1 and 3 that pretty much panned out, except Bagley and Finley won by much larger margins than I projected.  At one point Daniels had the exact number I projected for him, but eventually I was off by 38 votes.  The order of the candidates in Ward 1 was right on the money, although I figured Painter would have received about 4% more votes and Hansen 1% less.  So Wards 1 and 3 held up to the model.

The At-Large race pretty much played out as I assumed and I picked Levison‘s votes within 100 votes of her final total, and I nailed Gallegos at 25%.  Young though way over-performed, pulling in a whopping 1805 votes, congrats go to him, not sure how he pulled that off.  One theory I heard was that Republicans may have done some research and found that the other three candidates were all Democrats and either didn’t vote at all or threw one at Young – I have no idea of his party affiliation.  I hope that’s why there was a 1500+ vote discrepancy between the mayoral and at-large race, more on that later.  For a newcomer, Heath Carroll pulled in a respectable 5,431 votes and 28%.

Of course, the biggest surprise was the mayoral race, and at this time is only 164 votes apart.  Supposedly, the county still has 300 or so votes to count and it will be tough, but not impossible, for Mayor Baum to narrow the gap into the automatic recount area.  If Dennis Coombs really pulled in over 10,000 votes (as did Baum), that’s quite a performance.  Currently the vote sits at just outside the automatic recount threshold, although Mayor Baum could pay for and request one.  I don’t know how much that costs, and if it’s worth it, and we may not have a resolution to this until after the swearing in on Monday.

If Coombs really got that many votes and pulls off a victory, it will obviously be no great mandate, but it will be a victory nonetheless.  What’s odd is that his victory carried no coattails with it, which to me is why the results are, at the very least, curious.  Why would someone vote for him but not the other candidates?  Levison had over 62% vote against her, and Hansen and McCoy got smoked.  And why would someone vote in the mayoral race, yet leave the At-Large portion of their ballot blank?  If there is a manual recount, I’m sure those ballots will be looked at.  Out of those 1500+ ballots, could there have been some double votes for mayor?  I would assume the machine they use would reject those, but I’ve heard bad things about their machines at BoCo.

I had heard the Coombs campaign leaned heavily on the Hispanic vote, especially with his Dream Act support.  But El Comite also supported Hansen and McCoy, and other literature from various groups supported all four of these candidates as a, ahem, “bloc” of candidates.  At least in Hansen and McCoy voters knew what they were getting, for better or worse.  Coombs by comparison was an unknown quantity.

And if Republicans came out in equal or higher numbers than Democrats, it can only mean one thing for Baum:  they bailed on him.  Considering (and some of you may not know this) that the “old guard” or “old money” in Longmont threw Baum under the bus within 2 weeks of the 2009 election – a move they came to regret later when he won – it appears (from this vantage point, which wasn’t part of anyone’s campaign) that they were willing to watch from the sidelines and let Baum live and die on his own.  It’s one of many reasons I don’t get involved with the “establishment”, regardless of what anyone deludes themselves into thinking.

So, bottom line, if current votes hold up, the 4-3 majority on council has now become a 5-2 majority with Coombs and Levison in the minority.  Two fairly ideological individuals (Hansen and McCoy) join Karen Benker in Longmont’s political dustbin, and we’re left with two supposedly fiscal conservatives, or at least that’s how they portrayed themselves.  Just getting McCoy off the council (and Benker in ’09) is worth the price of admission for me, and I think Coombs (should his lead hold up) will be in for a rude awakening to how time and energy consuming the job of Mayor really is.  And I’m not sure how enjoyable it will be continually being on the losing side of 5-2 or 4-3 votes.

Either way, good luck to all the victors.  More to come…

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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