Annapolis Election 2013: Who Will Win & Why

| November 1, 2013
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2013-Election copyEye On Annapolis does not endorse candidates.  However, that does not mean that we are not interested in the candidates or have our own opinions.  And with that in mind, here is our analysis of what we believe will happen at the polls on Tuesday.  Call it guessing or crystal balling, but the analysis is based on a combination of numbers, facts, past trends, and the current temperament of the voters.  Is it how we would have liked it to turn out? Maybe.  Maybe not. Is our analysis perfect? Not really, but we will just have to see how well we did on Tuesday.

Ward 1 – Joe Budge (D)

Joe Budge is the sitting alderman for Ward 1 and has held the seat for only a few months after the resignation of Dick Israel. Budge was president of the Ward One Residents’ Association and had been very vocal in ward issues prior to his appointment. However, he has not really had time to demonstrate his legislative competency in his short tenure. Allen Furth is his challenger and he would bring some unique perspective to the council based on his professional experience and civic experience, having served on Boards in the City and with the Republican Central Committee. However, Budge is a friend to Ward One and demonstrated that when he went to bat against the City Dock Master Plan. I think the residents will give Mr. Budge the opportunity to prove himself during the next four years.

Ward 2 – Kurt Riegel (D)

Fred Paone is the sitting alderman for the ward and the lone Republican on the council. Kurt Riegel is his challenger and this is proving to be a much closer race than initially thought. Paone has raised a lot of money, but has not spent a lot of it outwardly. Riegel has invested time knocking on the doors of the ward for the past three months–at least.  Most of Paone’s warchest was from funds raised prior to the election cycle. During the cycle, Paone has raised about $6500 to Riegel’s approximate $2800. Both have similar positions on the concerns of the ward–green space, transportation, and healthy waterways.  While Paone may have the advantage of incumbency, I am not sure it is enough for him to defeat the stealthy campaign of Riegel.  In speaking to several residents, Paone is perceived (and Riegel is portraying him) as the “no” candidate and one that will vote against the Mayor simply because of party differences.  Additionally, Paone is fighting a quiet public relations battle. When he retired from the State’s Attorney’s Office, he received more than $100K in unearned pension payments. Paone claimed he was unaware of the error and sued the County to retain the overpayment. Ultimately, his case was settled for an undisclosed amount, but many question how he could not be aware of such a large oversight and point out the irony of dubbing himself a fiscal conservative while at the same time refusing to return public money to which he was not entitled. This one will be tight, but I bet Riegel eeks out a win and takes the seat away from Paone.

Ward 3 – Rhonda Pindell Charles (D)

Without a challenger, retiring Alderman Classie Hoyle’s seat will go to Rhonda Pindell Charles provided that she receives at least one vote and her total votes outnumber any potential write-in candidates.  She has been very active in the ward campaigning for herself (despite not needing to) and the other Democratic candidates. And if her financial success at raising funds and her campaign reports are any indication, she may be one to watch for Mayor the next time we elect one.

Ward 4 – Sheila Finlayson (D)

Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson is also running unchallenged and will handily win another term. Sheila is well versed in the position and has been rumored to be interested in the Mayor’s seat in the future.

Ward 5 – Jared Littmann (D)

Alderman Jared Littmann was appointed to fill the seat of Mat Silverman who quit mid-term due to career requirements. Littmann was appointed by the Democratic Central Committee in January and has been an effective communicator and has proven to be a thoughtful legislator–even to the chagrin of some of the other council members.  He is running unopposed and will easily win his seat.

Ward 6 – Kenny Kirby (D)

Aside from the Mayor’s race, this is probably most contested and heated race. Alderman Kirby has had his share of controversy surrounding his legal address, his lack of responsiveness to City election requirements, constituent service and more. Steven Conn, his independent opponent has been beating the bushes drumming up votes and trying to corral Kirby into a debate–to no avail. Conn and his supporters have claimed that Kirby will not return their calls or otherwise engage his constituents. Yet others, mostly African Americans, feel that he is an effective representative for their needs. This representation extends well beyond his defined ward and into other traditionally African American communities across the city. Unfortunately, this race will come down to … well race. Conn seemed to get distracted during the race and shifted his focus to criticize candidates, other than his opponents, about their fundraising efforts. This did little more than take time from his own campaign, and likely alienate him from his potential colleagues should he win.  The ward has been gerrymandered to a point where the majority of registered voters are African American (and Democrat) and likely will select a black democratic incumbent over a white independent candidate. Despite an aggressive campaign, a lot of signs, and a lot of effort, this seat will go to current Alderman Kenny Kirby.

Ward 7 – Ian Pfeiffer (D)

Alderman Ian Pfeiffer is running against James T. Clenny. Pfeiffer won his seat 4 years ago against Jennifer Monteith (Clenny served as her campaign manager) and has proved to be a thoughtful and measured alderman for his ward. Pfeiffer has been accessible and during the campaign, has been seen around the ward talking with voters. Clenny also did some door knocking as well, but is really not known by many residents of the ward and his most recent campaign finance report shows no expenses. I am not sure he wants it–his door hanger suggested if I wanted to speak to him, I needed to go to McDonald’s where he has breakfast most mornings.  Pfeiffer will win this seat in a landslide.

Ward 8 – Ross Arnett (D)

Alderman Ross Arnett was also not challenged for this seat in Eastport. Arnett, is a self proclaimed budget hawk for the council, yet most times will vote along with the Mayor after all the squawking is done and the dust has settled. Without a challenger, he will win the seat; however, judging from discussions with Ward 8 residents, had there been a challenger, either in the primary or in the general election, this could have been a very tight race. Arnett does not enjoy as much support in his Ward as he believes.

Mayor – Josh Cohen (D)

Make no mistake, what Mayor Josh Cohen once referred to as “a joke,” has rallied the Republicans, some disenfranchised Democrats, and independent voters to make the mayor’s race a real nail biter.  If any race in the city could go either way this one is it; but I feel that Mayor Cohen will prevail–but not by much.  Cohen would be well advised to bring a “sweat rag” for his forehead as he watches the results come in on election night.

Both raised equivalent amounts of money, and they spent it as well. Pantelides opted for a very public facing campaign and his billboard sized signs can be seen all over town (and even out of town). Cohen spent his on mailers and opinion surveys.  Both candidates have raised a lot of individual donations from within the city and some from developers–there is no clear cut “developer’s favorite” in this race. Pantelides has gained the support of Ed Hartman and most of the businesses associated with Hartman’s Save Annapolis group.  However, Cohen also has attracted financial backing from many local businesses–those who did not agree with Hartman and Save Annapolis, as well as general support from businesses across the city.

While fundraising is critical to make sure a candidate is familiar and “known” to the voters, the end results all lie in the numbers.

Annapolis Voters

 
Dem
Rep
Una
Oth
Grn
Lib
Total
Ward 117171051822010213621
Ward 216741016693016183417
Ward 3176040041823122595
Ward 418574344382562742
Ward 51267846567011142705
Ward 6135732337003132066
Ward 714028085893762815
Ward 816851069764112113542
TOTAL127195947466186710123503
Source: Voter Registration Records

The Democrats hold a 54% majority of the registered voters in the city. The Unaffiliated voters nearly outnumber the Republicans.

Turnout has historically been in the 30% to 35% range. 2005 was 33.64% and 2009 was 35.6%.  It is reasonable to assume that turnout this time will also be around 35%. According to Republican and Democrat political consultants, there is no significant deviation of turnout by party; however, there is some deviation by precinct.

Josh Cohen’s campaign is controversial. He drew an opponent in the primary. Save Annapolis came to a head to oppose his ideas for City Dock and 110 Compromise Street. The Crystal Spring development has also become very contentious. The question of the day is how many disgruntled Democrats are there?  And are they mad enough to switch sides? Or just sit the election out? The core support of the Buchheister campaign was from Ward 1 and Ward 8–she did not have any strong support in any other wards and she only garnered a slim margin in 1 and 8. So, this shows that the Democrats may not be quite as divided as some seem to think.  Yes, many thought they had a better candidate in Buchheister, but her loss may not be enough to persuade them to switch sides. Absent any egregious behavior, most political faithful on both sides will not change sides for a single election. Last night I had dinner with a friend and she asked me if it would be reasonable to switch religions based on several bad sermons by the minister. This is likely an apt analogy for the Democrats in Annapolis.

Using a 35% turnout figure…

Let’s  say that as much as 20% of the registered Democrats are disgruntled and will vote for Pantelides.

  • Registered Republicans = 5,947
  • Turn out at 35% = 2,081
  • Registered disgruntled Democrats = 2,544
  • Turnout at 35% = 890
  • Other registered voters = 4,837
  • Turnout at 35% = 1,693 (assume 50% to Cohen and 50% to Pantelides)

The maximum votes I see for Mike Pantelides is 3,818.  Conversely for Cohen…

  • Registered Democrats = 12,719
  • Turnout at 35% = 4,452
  • Less disgruntled Democrats = 890
  • Adding in half of the other = 847

The count I get for Cohen is 4,409.  This is a difference of 591.  In 2005, the winner (Ellen Moyer) captured 45.87% of the votes. In 2009, Josh Cohen captured 46.5% of the votes. Both elections also had a third party candidate which certainly diluted the results.

This is anyone’s race. Pantelides could win it, but I feel that the assumptions presented favor Pantelides; yet still show a win for Cohen.

Spoiler: If the residents in Wards 3,4 and 5 do not turn out as expected because their Alderman is unopposed, our next Mayor will be Mike Pantelides. However, Cohen understands that the power has shifted from Wards 1 and 8 to the outer Wards and has been working those neighborhoods with the Aldermen to get out the vote.

Super Majority

supermajorityThe Capital endorsed candidates are precisely what our analysis presents. Unlike The Capital, we do believe that this is a dangerous precedent. As it is, several council members regularly, consistently, and predictably vote with the Mayor on every piece of legislation. Some will go through the motions of opposition and “cave” at the last moment, others will be very upfront about their support. The addition of more Democrats to the council essentially guarantees that virtually any legislation endorsed by Cohen will see passage, likely with a 9-0, 8-1, 7-2 vote.

Should Mike Pantelides end up winning this, I am also afraid with a Democrat council, that he will become a lame duck before he even gets the keys to City Hall. If Pantelides wins, he will be presiding over a group of 8 Aldermen who all actively campaigned for, and championed for the guy he beat. I fear that in a Pantelides administration, we will see repeated failure of legislation by 8-1 or 7-2.

Balance is good and Annapolis needs to strive for it. It is, quite frankly, embarrassing that the Republican party is so weak and dysfunctional that they cannot even field weak candidates to give the voters at least some choice in half of the City’s wards.

But the Republican weakness will not be solved on Tuesday.  This is merely one man’s analysis and opinion of the results of an event that has yet to happen.  And any change will never come unless the registered voters get out and vote. It is your right–and whether you agree with me or not–please get up and go vote on Tuesday!

We will Wednesday morning quarterback on the 6th!

Oh, and one more thing, please make sure you follow us on Twitter –we will be tweeting election news on Tuesday along with The Capital, The Baltimore Sun, and the Annapolis Patch using the hashtag #ANPElection13. Or you can tune in below and follow along!


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Category: Editorial, Local Politics, OPINION, POLITICAL NEWS

About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.

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