The D’s are optimistic that Dan Barrett can defeat Republican Mark Shelton in the December 18 runoff to serve the remainder of Anna Mowery’s unexpired term. I think that the optimism is unwarranted. Although Barrett led Shelton by 1,526 votes, he actually polled below expectations.
In 2006, Mowery defeated Barrett by 23,164 to 16,908, with a Libertarian receiving the remaining votes. Mowery won 56.1% of the vote to Barrett’s 41%. In the special election, however, Barrett polled only 31.53% –even though the ballot had two propositions which should have drawn Democrats to the polls, a collective bargaining agreement for firefighters and a school bond issue. If the Democratic turnout could produce only 31.53 of the vote (the remaining six candidates all were Republicans), in the special election how can they do better in a runoff when the voters who came out to support the firefighters and the schools are not likely to return?
Republican turnout will decline, too, but the GOP advantage in this district should be sufficient. Shelton needs only 1,427 votes from the 8,701 Republicans who voted for another GOP candidate (or the equivalent from new voters) to win the election.