I have been following the local campaigns over the last six months. After the primaries in August, I zeroed in on four races that I believe will tell us a lot about how our community views change, party labels, qualifications and personalities when the results are known Tuesday night.
The four races can be divided into two groups. The first group features two races that pit status quo against change. The second group of races will require voters to choose between qualifications and personalities.
The first group includes the race for State House District 9 and State Attorney.
In this race, both Loranne Ausley, running for State House District 9, and State Attorney candidate Jack Campbell, are favored by the traditional Leon County political power structure. This is due, in part, to decades of public and community service by the candidates, their families, and close associates.
The challengers of the status quo, Jim Messer and Pete Williams who are both Republicans, appear to have been able to reach voters with a message that has not been discarded because of political affiliation. Remember, I said appears.
The winners of these two races will tell us if Leon County voters chose to look past party labels and break with the past or if they are content with the candidates that are products of the traditional Leon County political power structure.
The second group includes the races for the Leon County Property Appraiser and Leon County Supervisor of Elections.
No matter how much you like Alan Williams and Akin Akinyemi – and I like both of them, it is clear that Mark Earley and Greg Lane posses the superior “on paper” qualifications to carry out the constitutional duties of the offices they seek.
However, for some voters in some races, there are reasons to support a candidate that is not based on qualifications. For example, familiarity, race, endorsements, and personality.
The winners of these two races will reveal just how much qualifications matter to voters in Leon County.
One closing note. I chose these four races because they are one on one affairs, appear competitive, and/or feature candidates from both parties.
Look for the post-election analysis next week.