Monday, October 30, 2006

Conjecturing analysis...

A hoped for longer post will have to wait as we put on our Analysis Hat and look at some local races. Because blogs are the bastion of baseless speculation, let's speculate -- as objectively as we can -- on the outcomes of the local council elections, which, in case you haven't heard, are happening next week. (Don't forget to vote!)

Despite what we'd like to believe, the growing cabal of local blogs probably aren't the best barometer of the feelings and discussions of the general, non-blogging public. Even on our best days, we reach only a tiny percentage of likely voters, and even factoring in the personal connections of our regular readers, most county residents (regrettably) have never heard of yours truly.

Feel free to challenge that assertion -- I'd certainly like to think the Hayduke Sphere of Influence is expansive.

With that in mind -- challenges notwithstanding -- I think most voters interact with local issues and campaigns in a very limited sense. They may read the endorsements of newspapers. They may see a few commercials. They might see some signs on their neighbors' yards. But on the whole, they have a limited understanding of the candidates and their issues, which makes prognostication difficult, especially for those of us who are highly entrenched in matters of local interest and who are, frankly, pretty biased.

Also, there's the matter of how local elections are impacted by state and national races. With the decline in Republican popularity over the last year, what impact will that have on the local races? In my uninformed voting days, I would go down the list checking everyone with a "D" next to their name? How many voters will do that this year?

Without any local public polling data, it's tough to read these elections. But let's try anyway.

Here's a hasty, poorly-thought-out analysis of the various council races.

District 1: Courtney Watson wins comfortably (10 points). As Chris Merdon is wont to point out, the district still leans Democratic, and Watson, with several years experience on the Board of Education, a well-known family and a moderate stance on most issues is poised to be the first Democrat to represent the county's northeastern section in 16 years. In a county where education is the most important issue for most voters, a former board chair who served without controversy in a non-controversial time is almost impossible to beat.

District 2: Calvin Ball, without question (15 - 20 points). Despite not gaining the endorsement of a couple newspapers, there is no way I'm giving this district, the most Democratic in the county, to a Republican. That's just how we roll.

District 3: Toss up. This is the only race in which I'm not confident in picking a winner. Jen Terrasa and Donna Thewes are both qualified, active and fairly well-known in their respective communities. In Terrasa's favor is the fact that she lives in and served on the village board for Kings Contrivance, which is most likely the swing area in this District (with Owen Brown being predominately Democratic and Savage/North Laurel predominantly Republican). In Thewes' favor are the facts that she's edged herself to the middle and she's, apparently, been everywhere during her campaign. I'm told there wasn't an event during the last six months that she didn't attend. If I have to choose (and I do), I'll fall back on bias and choose Terrasa by 3 points.

District 4: Mary Kay Sigaty, again without question (12 - 15 points). See description for District 2 and also Courtney Watson (BOE experience). Although not as solidly Democratic, it still leans far enough to the left that any Republican who wants to win is going to have to be a stellar candidate. And while I've been surprised by Tom D'Asto's pluckiness and commitment, I don't think he's done enough to pull this one out. He has gone after the Town Center Master Plan, playing up fears of massive city-fication -- which was a wise move -- but I think Sigaty's insulated enough from the process that many voters who view this as the main issue won't be swayed.

District 5: Greg Fox, hands down (15 - 20 points). See Districts 2 and 4 for explanation. As refreshing as it would be to see Don Dunn as a councilman, the hill he must climb is just too tall.

So, what do you think? Am I being blatantly partisan, or have I managed to sufficiently suppress my bias and provide a reasoned analysis?

How about we turn this into a contest? Post your predictions (with a margin of victory) in the comments and whoever gets the most right gets a prize of no financial value and to be determined at a later date. (Feel free to post prize ideas, too.)

I'll have a County Executive analysis later this week, but for the sake of the contest, please include your predictions here (or not).

Please be sure to use an identifier. Note that you don't have to divulge any personal information (and I won't divulge any, either). Just click the button that says "Other" and fill in a random name of your choosing.


Anonymous said...

watson,ball,thewes,sigaty and fox.

ball should have made this a slam dunk. he didn't.

watson non-controversial in non-controverial times? Remember O'Rourke? How soon - under the steady leadership of Cousins- do we forget those difficult O'Rourke days.

Anonymous said...

It’s pretty easy for us, from the comfort of our homes, to critique Ball who came into the Superbowl during the fourth quarter—even if he was a first round draft pick—he was a rookie and that’s hard.

I would venture to say that if Ulman, Guzzone and Ball all win and Merdon loses, even if it’s by 1 point each, Ball made the difference. If Rakes had been there these last 9 or 10 months, Ulman and Guzzone would have (1) a constant critic and (2) no third vote.

I am sure it was not easy for Ball to continuously take one for the team, look like a leader, always have a smile (at least when I have seen him) and learn the system under extreme scrutiny all at the same time while running a race, raising a family, teaching college courses and (I think) working on an accelerated doctorate.

In my humble opinion, he gave his slam dunk to Ulman and Guzzone so that the whole team could win.

Cory said...

I've been reading your blog and some of the other HC blogs for about a year now. Guess now is as good a time as any to jump in the discussion.

Unfortunetly, I agree with your district 2 analysis. It pains me as a democrat to say that but Calvin Ball isn't the best candidate. In the short time he's been on the council he's introduced one bill which would have expanded density by bypassing zoning rules. And did so in an already charged zoning environment which was foolish at best.

I believe I read in one of the papers, after the bill had been withdrawn, that he was asked to sponser the bill and did so. That leaves me with one of three conclusions. One, he or his staff never read the bill he was asked to sponsor which isn't a good sign. Two, they read it and couldn't figure out the zoning implications. Or three they did read it, saw the zoning implications and went ahead anyway. No matter which case is true none give me confidence in Mr. Ball to be a council member.

Hayduke said...

Anon #2: That's a really good anaylsis. Thanks!

Cory: Welcome to the fun. I hope we hear more from you.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the numbers of absentee ballots? It's over 10,000 countywide and the R ballots outnumber the D ballots by a few hundred. Absentee ballots could make up 10-12% of the total countywide votes. Close races will not be decided on election night and absentee ballots will favor the R candidates.

Anonymous said...

Ball is young and inexperienced. I've been very disappointed in what I've seen from him because I had the impression he was wiser and less prone to a sense of entitlement than he has shown.

District 3 I call for the Dems, although it will be close.

I call Robey in the Senate 13 race and Merdon in the CE race.

Anonymous said...

perhaps I should have said that Ulman and Guzzone should have made this a slam dunk for Ball and they didn't. I agree, Ball has been sacrificed for the good of the team. Was it worth it?

Anonymous said...

Specifically, what did you expect Ball to do differently?

I expected him to vote for the smoking ban, give a reliable Democratic vote, and get some OJT for next year.

What do his constituents think? The only negatives I have heard have been people outside of his district.

I hear the Oakland Mills & Long Reach folks still love him and I read he is doing something with speed bumps in Elkridge.

Has he gotten any of the endorsements like teachers, police, fire fighters, etc.?

Anonymous said...

There is a fourth possible conclusion to the bill Ball put in.

Given the fact that the 59 unit development that everyone said the bill would allow is moving forward without the bill, maybe the bill which you say would have expanded density by bypassing zoning rules would not have. Maybe it would have had a different effect.

I thought the housing folks could do that stuff since 1990 when the County Council elected in 1986 gave them the power.

Who asked Ball to put that bill in? I know Merdon has put in bills at the request of developers before so that the public could hear the issue and voice concerns.