Many people enjoy sharing their political opinion whether it is in the local newspapers, a blog, Twitter or in Facebook. While opinions about candidates and elections are nice we now have an opportunity to begin to study the numbers that are coming in.
An examination of the absentee ballot requests and returns give us some preliminary indications. While very few ballots are back in here is what we know.
There are 108,386 Democratic voters in Leon County. Of these 14.9% or one in seven have requested an absentee ballot. Democrats asked for 16,099 ballots and have already returned 4,762 (including mine) for a 29.6% return rate.
In Leon County there are 57,007 registered Republican voters. About one in six, or 15.7% asked for an absentee ballot. Republicans requested 8,967 absentees and have already returned 3,062 for a return rate of 34.1%.
The absentee request rates and return rates do not show a stronger blue tide here (Leon County has been in the past a strong blue stronghold). These rates, two weeks before the primary, are typical. When early voting begins that may change.
The number of voters registered non-partisan in Leon County is 40,058. Only one in twelve, or 8.1%, have requested an absentee ballot. Of the 3,242 absentee ballots requested by NPAs 700 have been returned thus far (a rate of 21.6%).
People who register with one of the two major political parties always vote at a higher rate than NPAs even when nearly every office to be voted on are non-partisan.
So far 5.4% of the Republicans have already voted. Among Democratic voters the percentage is 4.4% and among NPAs its 1.7%. These numbers are dated August 17th.
It is unclear so far what the local Democratic or Republican Parties are doing to encourage and educate their voters before the August 28th primary. While candidates have to frequently report their contributions and expenditures the local political parties do not have to file a public campaign report until August 24th.
It is safe to conclude that the Democratic effort, if any, will be minimal. The Republican effort might be described at best as minimal plus.
If the political parties are no longer recruiting candidates and educating voters prior to an election then who is. Most candidates seem to be running their local campaign by themselves or with a few advisers.
However, the long-standing local political consultants have their hand into at least seven campaigns. Those consultants include ESP Media (Sean Pittman), Zachary Group (Gary Yordon) and Vancore Jones Communications (Vancore Jones).
These three consultants have stepped in and usurped the role of the local political parties largely because the local political parties are inactive.
Among the seven candidates these consultants are helping a total of $224,877.21 has been expended thus far. Of this amount 39.1% or $87,895.94 has been given to these three consultants.
In the Mayor’s race John Dailey has hired Vancore Jones Communications. Of the funds Dailey has expended thus far 64.5% has gone to his consultant. Opposing Dailey is Dustin Daniels with Sean Pittman getting 13.7% of what he has expended. This Jones-Pittman contest will be decided on August 28th as voters select the top two who move onto the general election.
In the Leon County Commission District 3 election Gary Yordon has received 54.2% of the funds spent by Rick Minor while Jones received 8.3% of the expenditures made by City Commission candidate Lisa Brown.
It is no longer a clash of political parties but a clash of consultants.
Sean Pittman has moved beyond City politics and is into two School Board races. Pittman is working for Darryl Jones in District Three against incumbent Maggie Lewis-Butler. Pittman has picked up 47.7% of Jones’ total expenditures thus far.
In School Board District Five incumbent Joy Bowen is challenged by Pittman backed Marcus Nicholas. Nicholas has paid 44.6% of his total expenditures to Pittman.
In County Judge Seat 3 Suzanne Van Wyk consultant Gary Yordon has received thus far 22.5% of her expenditures.
These consultant fees do pay for consultant time, ideas and services.
As has happened at the City level most of the consultants have picked up contracts after they have run successful commissioner campaigns. Stay tuned for contractual pickups at the School Board level to go along with the already won City contracts. The centuries old adage to the victor goes the spoils still applies here in Leon County.
It would be a joy to read your responses and comments to this article. I encourage you to respond.
Jon M. Ausman is the longest serving member of the Democratic National Committee in Florida’s history (December 1992 to January 2017). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 850-321-7799.