With apologies to a much younger Jim McIngvale for the title (and to those who could never stand his commercials), this entry in inspired by PDiddie's most recent post on an entirely different topic, in which he tangentially links to an Atlantic article about Ranked Choice Voting in Maine (to which I may have linked recently as well).
PD lives and votes in Houston's Council District K, one of the two districts birthed by the 2010 census, when Houston's population count breached two million and a provision in the city's charter kicked in. As we have discussed previously, K's thus far only council member Larry Green died suddenly last month, forcing a special election to fill his seat through 2019. Nine candidates queued up to take his place, including Martha Castex-Tatum (note: paywall), who had worked as his constituent liaison.
When a Council seat is vacated by death, retirement, term limits, or a member seeking higher office, here in Houston we just expect a whole crowd of hats in the ring. (I haven't really looked, but I'm sure it happens in other cities as well.) The more candidates, the less likely any candidate will receive a majority, and thus the more likely a runoff election will be required. This is especially true when there are two or more well-known candidates in the race.
Check it out, though: Castex-Tatum won handily. There will be no runoff this time. This is the exception to the rule.
Le Sigh. Remember how the people of Maine voted last year to switch to Ranked Choice Voting for local and state offices? Remember how for a while it appeared that the Legislature there would overturn it, but didn't? Remember "that depends on what your definition of the word 'majority' is"? Well, now the duly elected representatives in Augusta have kicked that particular can waaaaay down the road.
According to an email blast (which you can also read here) from the Maine Green Independent Party, who worked hard to get that referendum on the ballot and passed, LD 1646 has passed both houses of the Legislature, bearing the title "An Act to Implement Ranked Choice Voting in 2021."
That title would seem to indicate that RCV will happen, although not in time for the next gubernatorial election as the voters had been led to believe. However, there is a multitude of tiny devils in the details.
Despite her habit of taking gratuitous swipes at third parties and third-party voters, I like watching Samantha Bee and her 30-minute soapbox Full Frontal. She also has a problem with independent candidates and voters. Sam Be like, "Two parties and two candidates max, dammit! Americans aren't smart enough for more than two! If Kang is demonstrably less evil and stupid than Kodos, then vote for Kang!"
This morning, reflecting on this Wednesday's broadcast, I have three wishes:
By now, Wednesday's installment of Full Frontal is already old news, but not as old as the thoroughly debunked "spoiler" argument. So I'm going to respond to the LePage segment with a bit of a spoiler here:
The end of the segment illustrates how independent candidates supposedly peeled votes away from the Democratic nominees in both 2010 and 2014, enabling LePage to be elected with less than a majority both times.
There were three such independents in 2010, the Year of the Tea Party Insurgency. One of them, Eliot Cutler, came close to winning, with Democrat Libby Mitchell polling at a dismal 19%. If anything, Mitchell spoiled the race for Cutler. Cutler tried again in 2014, but managed only 8.4%.
Sam, why do you think independents were queuing up to run for governor in 2010? Maybe because neither major party was doing jack to help the working people of Maine? Was Mitchell really the best candidate that Maine's Democratic Party could offer that year? Was Mike Michaud really the best available in 2014? Were all the independent candidates disgruntled lefties, or was at least one of them a conservative appalled at the prospect of LePage getting elected? Can you guarantee that all of Cutler's 51,518 voters have voted for Democrat Michaud in 2014, landing Michaud in the mansion instead of Governor Worldwide Embarrassment?
Also, Sam, you completely ignored Maine's Ranked Choice Voting referendum on the ballot this year, which seeks specifically to negate any "spoiler" issues. Here is the ballot language as quoted in Ballotpedia:
Do you want to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative, and to have ballots counted at the state level in multiple rounds in which last-place candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by majority?
My only beef with the referendum is that it does not include President and Vice President. Apart from that, it's a long overdue, people-powered solution for a state where independents and the Green Party have a strong presence. As a longtime Green, I am biased toward Instant Runoff Voting, but I will link you to arguments both in favor of the referendum and opposed to it.
The old expression "As Maine goes, so goes the nation" may not be true, but I'm hopeful that Maine will pass Ranked Choice, that it will produce a governor in 2018 more reflective of the state's population, and that other states will follow suit.
Also, agreeing with what Bee said in her first segment Wednesday night, I'm hopeful that she will be able to take a nice, long break from jokes about presidential politics after this year's bizarre-reality-TV election is finally in the can.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.