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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The 2018 Plainfield Dem Primary: A shocking X-ray

How X-rays reveal what the naked eye can't see.

First, congratulations to Ashley Davis and Joylette Mills-Ransome for winning their Democratic primary contests on June 5.

Given the lay of the land in Plainfield, we can confidently look forward to their election in November.

That does not mean that we can rest on our oars, however. Candidates up the line, especially the Senate race and that of our own Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman deserve all the effort we can muster.

What I want to do today is take a peek behind Tuesday's numbers, an "X-ray" if you will, a shocking X-ray.

Max Pizarro's InsiderNJ noted on Tuesday evening (see here) that the Union County Democratic organization took it on the chin in several races, including Linden, Roselle, Garwood and Union Township.

The story also includes Plainfield in that list, saying Scutari ally Mayor Adrian Mapp had "a thumbs up and thumbs down night," certainly an eye-catching turn of phrase.

Was he suggesting that Mayor Mapp was not rooting for both of his candidates? If true, that would tarnish the reputation of both the chair and the PDCC.

Let's take a closer look at the Plainfield situation.

I don't have figures on Plainfield's overall turnout, but it is certainly down from last year (and in Toliver's case from 2014).

Davis won her contest with 59% of the total votes cast (she got 458 to Toliver's 251).

Comparing the 2018 race to Toliver's 2014 race (also contested) is instructive. You can read my post on the2014 primary results here.

In that race, where Toliver had the backing of the PDCC (then led by Assemblyman Jerry Green), a total of 773 votes were cast of which Toliver got 63% (491) and candidates Emmet Swan and Siddeeq El-Amin got 26% (199) and 11% (83) respectively.

At a total turnout of 709, 2018's total is down about 10% from 2014, something the PDCC chair should be concerned about.

Did the turmoil created by a PDCC officer going rogue and campaigning for Toliver make a difference? That's what the numbers suggest to me.

Matters in the Wards 2/3 race are even more striking, because this involved two candidates who faced off against each other just a year ago, when Mills-Ransome was running to fill Rebecca Williams' unexpired term (she is running this year for a full four-term in her own right).

Let's compare the numbers:

In 2017, which was a 3-way race between this year's contenders plus Alma Blanco (aligned with mayoral candidate Tracey Brown), the numbers shook out like this:

A total of 2,926 votes were cast in 2017, of which Mills-Ransome got 66% (1,735) and Cox and Blanco got 21% (562) and 13% (332) respectively.

In 2018, with only two candidates facing off, the results are quite startling.

With just 1,999 votes cast Mills-Ransome got 60% of the vote (1,194) as compared to Cox's 40% (806).

This means that Mills-Ransome's margin went down even though there was no "spoiler" candidate.

Not only that, the total turnout dropped by more than 30%!

There are two possible causes, as I see it.

The first is that the unresolved conflict in the PDCC after the rough contest over Nick Scutari's election as the county chair either depressed the turnout or led some voters to actually go for Cox as a protest vote.

The other possibility is that Cox's Campbell-backed campaign spent more money (and covered it up) than we will ever know and that it had some effect.

It's probably a combination of both, but the  clear implication is that the PDCC needs to heal its divisions and move forward.
That will take concerted effort by the PDCC leadership.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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