Valderrama, Vance and Whitten win

Note: Future results updates are available at the King County Elections website here.

The State’s Initiatives website results are here.

The Election Night tally, published about 8:15pm by King County Elections, provided the following results:

Position 2

Nancy Whitten               3,228     53.55%

Kathy Richardson         2,787    46.23%

Position 4

Ramiro Valderrama     3,345     56.47%

Jim Wasnick                    2,566      43.32%

Position 6

Jesse Bornfreund          1,833       31.96%

Tom Vance                      3,883       67.70%

Final results won’t be available until November 30. How, then, can I “call” the winners?

In every electoral race except one since Sammamish was incorporated in 1998, the results posted on Election Night mirrored the final results, within one or two percentage points. The sole exception was the 2001 race between Nancy Whitten and incumbent Ken Kilroy. Whitten led by 17 votes on Election night but lost by fewer than 150 votes when the final tally was in.

The County will post results updates daily; the link of the schedule is here (generally 4:30pm every work day). I’ll be watching the daily results and will update as well.

What do the results mean?

In a separate post, I go into great detail about the repudiation of the “pave-it-over” ambitions for the Town Center.

Here, I’ll offer a few other thoughts.

Repudiating smear tactics

First is the repudiation of the whispering campaign and smear tactics that emerged immediately after the August primary, with Valderrama the target. Most of the innuendo was petty, trivial and irrelevant. Questions about Valderrama’s birth date and birth place. An entry into a West Point yearbook. His service after West Point. This petty stuff was remarkable to think that anybody would care and it was entirely designed to smear Valderrama.

The other tactic, about an unfounded domestic violence probe that is routine under certain circumstances under state law, was a more serious tactic aimed entirely at smearing Valderrama.

It is clear all these things came from Wasnick supporters. The efforts backfired and in all likelihood cost Wasnick votes. They certainly cost him support of key groups he had been courting.

The smear campaign at Valderrama backfired on those doing it.

The results also demonstrate the desirability of obtaining a broad base of support. Valderrama had campaign donations from Republicans and Democrats and Independents. He had donations from property rights and environmental interests. He had support from the local Republican and Democratic organizations. And he had a record of leading the Citizens for Sammamish, a group that began as an irritating gadfly to the City Council and Administration to one that forced real change in policy and budgets. Wasnick, joining the Galvin line, unwisely denigrated “citizen activist groups.” In doing so, Wasnick, the newcomer to local politics, ceded this important base of support to Valderrama rather than trying to make inroads and divide Valderrama’s base.

Wasnick also largely self-funded his campaign. This certainly gave the appearance that he had little support.

Bornfreund engaged in a lackluster campaign that tied his fortunes to Wasnick. They essentially became a “ticket,” appearing together, taking virtually identical talking points and positions (not surprising given the close ties that were quite apparent to Galvin and Rutt) and, for Bornfreund’s misfortune, he was seen taking down Valderrama signs.

Bornfreund also largely self-funded his campaign and, like Wasnick, didn’t have much in the way of support to show for campaign contributions.

Vance reached out to the “old guard” of supporters, virtually all Democrats and many dating to the earliest days of incorporation. He didn’t campaign except by appearances at candidate forums and he clearly didn’t reach out across partisan divides. Running against the inept campaigning of Bornfreund, he didn’t have to. Bornfreund should have listened to the winning strategy advice he got. But he didn’t.

The results of the Richardson-Whitten race were the hardest to call in advance. Whitten has never liked campaigning and in her three previous races didn’t doorbell nor press-the-flesh. But compared with Richardson’s invisible campaign (cleverly termed the “Ghost Candidate” by Whitten), Nancy was a veritable gregarious Bill Clinton-type of campaigner.

That Whitten did so poorly against Richardson’s non-campaign is testament to the erosion over the years of her base of support and her erratic performance on the City Council in recent years. Richardson could have won handily, but the Ghost moniker hurt.

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