News flash: today’s Election Day! And if you either didn’t know or don’t care, you’re not alone.
The City Clerk mailed ballots to 207,155 registered voters. As of yesterday evening, more than 10,000 had been returned as undeliverable, while another 1,601had been issued by the Clerk’s office, leaving a total of 198,142 ballots to be voted.
About 66,115 had been received so far, representing a turnout of 33.37 percent. A few thousand more may trickle in before the polls close, but at this point 66 percent of registered voters have ignored, forgotten or thrown away their ballots.
Council district populations range from 68,569 (D-4) to 70,350 (D-6). Everything else being equal, you’d expect turnout numbers to be roughly equal. D-1 has the highest turnout so far, at about 15,000, followed by D-5 (13,500), D-3 (12,300), D-6 (11,500), and D-2 (10,700).
District 4 which includes most of southeastern Colorado Springs was the exception, with only 5,119 ballots returned. That’s a measure of the area’s transience and isolation from local government, the indifference of district voters, the lack of compelling issues/candidates – or all three.
The last campaign finance filings contained a few surprises.
In D-1, Tim Leigh reported receiving $1,000 in contributions during the March 15-March 29 period, but that wasn’t the most interesting number. He also reported a balance of $8,039 at the end of the reporting period. Unless he plans on throwing one helluva victory party on Tuesday night or has unpaid campaign bills, it’s hard to justify keeping the money in the bank. If he loses in a squeaker, he’ll look like a moron … but if he wins he’ll seem thrifty and prescient.
In D-2, Angela Dougan collected $1,858 and had $2,079 on hand, while Joel Miller collected $850 and had $122 on hand.
In D-3, Keith King only reported fundraising results up to March 24, presumably to avoid tipping his hand to the competition. King’s tactic isn’t unique. Among “serious’ candidates, it’s the rule, not the exception.. He collected $2,160 and had $21,690 on hand.
Brandy Williams led all candidates with $29,305, of which $26,000 came from her mother, attorney Consuelo Williams. Like King, she only reported results through March 24. She showed a balance on hand of $5,970.
In D-4, Helen Collins spent $5,155, mostly on campaign mailers. So far, she’s loaned her campaign $6,571. Dennis Moore raised $4,400 and spent $3,318, leaving $1133 in the bank as of March 24. Deborah Hendrix had raised $750 during the period, spent $4,619, and had $12,234 in the bank.
In D-5 Jill Gaebler, Bernie Herpin and Al Loma all filed reports as of March 24. Gaebler raised $732, spent $3,262 and $4,328 in the bank, while Herpin reported raising $2,000, spending $3,958 and $8,373 in the bank. Al Loma raised $5,550, thanks to a $3,000 cash infusion from the Housing & Building Association, spent $6,760 and had an ending balance of $1,036.
Reporting up to March 28, D-6 candidate David Moore raised $2,519, spent $6,136, and was left with $1,387. Ed Bircham gave his campaign another $3,000, making a total of $11,000 for the self-financing candidate. Reporting through 3/24, Andres Pico raised $525, spent $3,427, and had $1413 in the bank.
So who’s gonna win this thing? Twenty-four names on the ballot, six winners. Here are my picks.
District 1: If you’re an incumbent, you don’t want to pick fights you can’t win, infuriate powerful political fixers, go to war with Colorado Springs Utilities, get mired in an ethics investigation, and attract a smart, competent opponent. Tim Leigh managed to do all five, but he’s still the man to beat. Heavy turnout in the district suggests that Don Knight is gaining ground. In a one-on-one race Knight would probably win, but with anti-Leigh sentiment divided among four rivals the Timster may squeak in. 1.Knight, 2. Leigh 3. Joe Barrera
District 2: Being the self-identified conservative’s conservative is a tired campaign tactic in Colorado Springs, but it’s one that rarely fails. Joel Miller has a great resume, good campaign skills, and would likely be a serious, well-informed council member – but that may not be enough. Folks in District 2 are as conservative as any in this city, and Angela Dougan’s “I’m a conservative!” shtick may carry the day. 1.Dougan, 2. Miller
District 3: Bob Kinsey and Tom Gallagher may have dropped out, but their names are still on the ballot – and that may make a difference. Jim Bensberg, Keith King and Brandy Williams have all run good campaigns, and have all attracted serious support from serious people. If they were in different districts, all three would be favored to win.
King has run a flawless, fast-starting campaign, fueled by donations from the business and political elite – not just of Colorado Springs, but of the entire state. Bensberg has been a tough, gritty, never-say-die competitor, who refused to give up the race after King entered. Of the three, he best understands the nuts and bolts of local government. At-large incumbent Williams has been the object of vicious attacks by anonymous funders hiding behind 527 groups. It’s been a dismaying spectacle
Is the D-3 race a referendum on the city’s future, a litmus test of the willingness of city residents to embrace the ideas and priorities of a new generation? Or is it a race between three tough politicians, a 34 year-old incumbent councilmember, a 65 year-old former state senator and a 58 year-old former county commissioner? Is it the King money machine against the tough, gritty Williams family? Is it the promise of spring, or the harbinger of a sour, tired future? Are waterbeds still cool? Only the voters know…
Williams may have waited too long to define herself to voters, and the some of the mud may stick. Yet with four aging male warriors on the ballot, she only needs Bensberg, Gallagher and Kinsey to vacuum up enough King votes to give her a plurality. With three thoroughbreds in the race, this is a tough call. 1.Williams 2. King 3. Bensberg
D-4: Deborah Hendrix may have skipped all the campaign forums, but that shouldn’t hurt her. She has energy, name recognition and establishment support, and that should carry the day. Dennis Moore is a credible candidate, but he’s up against a formidable opponent. And let’s not forget Helen Collins, who garnered more than 20,000 votes as a member of the Doug Bruce “reform team” in 2011. She may appeal to conservative voters, and with such light turnout she could surprise the two apparent frontrunners. 1.Hendrix 2.Collins 3.Moore
D-5: Another interesting race! The dynamics are similar to D-3, with a younger woman facing off against three cranky old guys. To win, Jill Gaebler must attract the support of women, young voters, moderates and Dems. Bernie Herpin can win unless Al Loma and Roger McCarville together skim off enough conservative votes to deny him the victory. 1.Gaebler 2.Herpin 3.Loma
D-6: What a lineup! Hard line conservative Ed Bircham, conservative military veteran Andres Pico, and retired post office employee/pastor/ Colorado Springs newcomer David Moore. Surprisingly, Moore is the establishment’s choice, probably because they see both Pico and Bircham as too headstrong and independent to listen to their wise counsel (translated: to vote the establishment line!). Turnout is strong, which may benefit Moore – but Bircham’s name recognition shouldn’t be discounted. Although I’m picking Moore, I have a hunch that Ed may surprise us all. 1. Moore 2. Bircham 3. Pico
And a final disclaimer – I don’t have 100 percent confidence is any of these picks. I won’t be surprised if the winners are Leigh, Miller, King, Collins, Herpin and Pico.
And, of course, I have my personal favorites. A colorful, quarrelsome and unpredictable sextet would go a long way toward ensuring my own job security – so here they are!
Julie Naye, Bill Murray, Tom Gallagher (They may have withdrawn, but they’re still on the ballot!), Dennis Moore, Roger McCarville and Ed Bircham.
Mayor Bach, Monday evening has come and gone – but tonight is game time.
Are you ready for some football??!!