2018 Gainesville Elections Guide

Gainesville City Elections are underway! Vote by mail ballots were sent out last week and are already in voters’ hands (you can request or track your ballot here).

You can skip the reasoning/background and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early from Saturday, March 10th until Saturday, March 17. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM, and Tuesday & Thursday 10 AM – 6 PM at:

You can also vote on election day, March 20th from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and you can find your voting location here.

Two City Commission seats are up this year, District 1 (D1) and At-Large 1 (AL1). AL1 represents all of Gainesville while D1 is the Eastern part of Gainesville (map).  60% of registered voters in D1 are non-white, compared with 40% in AL1. D1 is also the only district in Gainesville with a majority non-white population making this seat vital for representation of communities of color.


At-Large 1

Commissioner Harvey Budd is running for re-election which means he gets to be judged on his actions over the last 3 years. Most relevant to me is when Commissioner Budd voted against living wage increases for City of Gainesville workers (link). He eventually changed his vote, but was one of only two commissioners who later voted against a living wage increase for part-time city workers (link). He also voted against the purchase of the GREC power plant, which is expected to lower the average electric bill by 10% (link). Just last year, he wanted to develop the Weiss property (the largest undeveloped tract in Gainesville), instead of conserving it, which was one key reason he did not receive an endorsement from the Sierra Club. He also held the Gainesville Votes initiative hostage as he was worried people like him wouldn’t be able to be elected if turnout was higher. (link).

The thing is, all of these progressive initiatives got done regardless of Commissioner Budd. Hell, he even agrees with many of the things he’s voted against. He wanted to pay a living wage to city workers, just not the way that the other City Commissioners or activists (including 2015 candidate Budd) wanted. He also wanted to purchase the GREC power plant to lower utility costs; he just didn’t want to pay the purchasing price that the rest of the commission agreed to. He supported moving City elections to November but only if there was an instant runoff, which isn’t currently viable for legal reasons, as had been previously explained to him. His one vote has been an unnecessary complication for progressive causes in Gainesville. At best he’s been a bad dealmaker and at worst an obstructionist. Many of the progressive organizations which supported him in 2015 are either supporting his opponent or staying out of this race.

Gail Johnson is a breath of fresh air in the race for At Large 1. Not only would it be great to have a woman of color on this mostly white (5 out of 7) and mostly male (6 out of 7) commission, but more importantly she would do a great job. Her platform is solid, she has the momentum to beat Budd, and honestly, I can’t wait to work with her to get progressive legislation passed. I expect her to win by double digits.  A vote for Gail Johnson is a vote for progress.


District 1

Commissioner Charles Goston has been in office for 3 years. He’s a former union president and owner of Black College Monthly magazine His record in office has been mixed. Two recent actions  which upset me are that he came out against requirements that rental properties meet a basic level of energy efficiency, and he published a wildly inaccurate anti-union article in his publication. For the most part he’s been decent on issues that matter. But as we say in the South, he’s more hat than cattle. He’s know for railing against institutional racism in the city, but has done very little to dismantle it. His boasting has led to him being fact checked by the Gainesville Sun in January and February. His inaction in the city has also prompted two well qualified challengers.

Tyra ‘Ty Loudd’ Edwards is an community organizer through and through. She’s an activist who bleeds progressive politics. Edwards attends the leftist meetings, isn’t afraid to be “Loudd” to authority figures, and is someone I consider a comrade in the fight for economic and racial justice. If you’re reading this blog you most likely have met her at the Civic Media Center, the Porters Community Center, or on TV holding the City Commission accountable for their actions (and often inactions) in East Gainesville. Simply put, she’s earned your vote by putting her actions where her politics are. Edwards has only raised ~$1,200 but isn’t running a traditional campaign. She’s knocking on every door she can and focusing on turning out youth of color. Activists candidates have attempted nontraditional campaigns in the past but, to my knowledge, none have been successful.

Gigi Simmons is another strong candidate. She’s been on a lot of boards, understands how the city government works, and is very active in liberal causes. She’s been endorsed by the Florida AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, Human Rights Council, Zero Waste Gainesville, and the Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation. She earned these endorsements because she’s very impressive in her depth of knowledge and her resolve to address problems facing East Gainesville. She’s raised ~$5,000 to Gostons ~$8,000 which puts her in a place where she can run an effective traditional campaign.

In order for someone to be elected to office they need 50% +1 of the votes. With District 1 being a three way race it’s very likely that this will go to a runoff on April 17th. Vote for Tyra ‘Ty Loudd’ Edwards or Gigi Simmons on March 20th. Both would be great City Commissioners and you will likely get a chance to vote for one of them again in the run off.


Alachua County Labor Coalition Questionnaires

While the ACLC doesn’t endorse I found these questionnaires very useful.

2018 Gainesville Sample Ballot

2017 Gainesville Election Breakdown

2017 Gainesville Election Breakdown

Gainesville’s progressives swept the last month’s March elections beating out the only two Republican held seats.  Republican incumbent Craig Carter lost to 26  year old David Arreola 66% to 34% and Republican Perry Clawson lost to Harvey Ward in a three way race 27% to 51%.

On the surface it looks like the cause of these upsets  was an all around decrease in turnout, but that’s a very incomplete picture. The reason the City of Gainesville has the most progressive commission in recent memory is because nearly a thousand more Democrats and over a thousand less Republicans voted in 2017 compared to 2014.

But why did this happen? Three reasons stand out according to my analysis: Slight changes in districts, uniquely problematic Republican candidates, and most importantly, a Trump effect pushing new city voters to the polls and depressing Republican turnout.

The Electorate and Turnout:

Turnout was down 3.2% compared to 2014 but this was mostly due a large increase in people registered to vote in the City in 2017. The raw numbers amount to around the same number of people going out to the polls. The largest drop in turnout came in D3 with a near 6% decrease from 2014.

Turnout  2014  vs 2017 by district

District 2017 2014 Difference
D2 19.3% 22.3% -3.0%
D3 13.9% 19.6% -5.7%
D1 and D4 6.6% 8.2% -1.6%
Total 11.8% 15.0% -3.2%

There were about 16,000 more people registered to vote in the city in 2017 than in 2014 and nearly 9,000 of them were Democrats. Republicans still gained some 2,700 eligible voters giving Democrats a small, 1.7% registration advantage over 2014. Overall the largest change was a less than 3% net change in favor of Democrats in D3. But this small change can’t account for the major shift in D3 from 2014 when Carter beat Democratic incumbent Susan Bottcher 53% to 47%.

Registered Voters 2014 vs 2017 by Party

At Large 2014 2014 % 2017 2017 % dif # dif %
Dem 37,322 51.99% 46,241 52.57% 8919 0.58%
Rep 16,156 22.51% 18,854 21.43% 2,698 -1.07%
Total 71,788 87,969 16,181
D2 2014 2014 % 2017 2017 % dif dif %
Dem 10,040 49.61% 11,683 50.49% 1,643 0.89%
Rep 5,656 27.95% 6,143 26.55% 487 -1.40%
Total 20,239 23,137 2,898
D3 2014 2014 % 2017 2017 % dif dif %
Dem 8,869 48.81% 11,086 49.62% 2,217 0.82%
Rep 4,594 25.28% 5,178 23.18% 584 -2.10%
Total 18,172 22,341 4,169
D1 and D4 2014 2014 % 2017 2017 % dif dif %
Dem 18,413 55.17% 23,472 55.24% 5,059 0.07%
Rep 5,906 17.69% 7,533 17.73% 1,627 0.03%
Total 33,377 42,491 9,114

The issue for Carter, Clawson, and possibly many Republicans in 2018 is about Democratic vs Republican turnout.  Overall Democrats had 970 extra voters from 2014 to 2017, keeping their turnout flat at 17% but Republican turnout dropped to 9%. The largest difference was in D3 where Republican turnout dropped 12% from 2014 levels. Another way to say this is that even with close to 9,000 more Democrats registered to vote in the city they still managed to turnout at 2014 levels. The 3% drop in turnout was almost entirely due to Republicans staying home.

Cast Votes 2014 vs 2017 by Party

At Large 2014 Voters 2014 Turnout 2017 Voters 2017 Turnout dif dif %
Dem 6,690 17% 7,660 17% 970 0%
Rep 2,925 18% 1,773 9% -1,152 -9%
D2 2014 2014 Turnout 2017 2017 Turnout dif dif %
Dem 2,485 25% 3,030 26% 545 1%
Rep 1,519 27% 995 16% -524 -11%
D3 2014 2014 Turnout 2017 2017 Turnout dif dif %
Dem 2,121 24% 2,260 20% 139 -4%
Rep 1,058 23% 588 11% -470 -12%
D1 and D4 2014 2014 Turnout 2017 2017 Turnout dif dif %
Dem 2,084 23% 2,370 10% 286 -13%
Rep 348 8% 190 3% -158 -5%

Clearly low Republican turnout was a major factor in these upsets but a more illuminating way to look at this is by vote share, the percentage of the votes cast up by a party. In D2 Democrats netted a 30% gain in vote share on a 2.2% gain in registration advantage. In D3 Carter peeled off some Democrats in 2014 and 2017 but he couldn’t manage to make up for a 12% drop in the Republican vote share. Close to 75% of the votes cast in the city election were from Democrats in 2017. These numbers are staggering.

Vote Share 2014 vs 2017 by Party

At Large 2014 Vote Share 2017 Vote Share dif %
Dem 62% 74% 12%
Rep 27% 17% -10%
D2 2014 Vote Share 2017 Vote Share dif %
Dem 50% 68% 18%
Rep 34% 22% -12%
D3 2014 Vote Share 2017 Vote Share dif %
Dem 59% 73% 14%
Rep 23% 11% -12%
D1 and D4 2014 Vote Share 2017 Vote Share dif %
Dem 77% 84% 7%
Rep 13% 7% -6%

Clearly there’s something important happening but who are those that chose to vote and what’s causing the uptick in Democratic turnout?

Categories of Voters:

It’s helpful to break the 2017 voters into three main classes:

  1. Regular city voters who voted in 2014 and 2017.
  2. Found voters who didn’t vote in 2014 but voted in 2017. These people were registered to vote in city elections in 2014 but chose not to vote.
  3. New city voters who weren’t registered in 2014 but were in 2017.

Chart 5: Voter Category

Number Percentage
Voted 2014; Voted 2017 5,884 54.9%
Registered but didn’t vote in 2014; Voted 2017 2,812 26.2%
Not registered 2014; Registered & voted 2017 2,023 18.9%
Total 10,719

The Regulars:

Turnout was depressed massively for Republican regular voters. In D2 Clawson was a problematic candidate to say the least and it showed in Republican turnout. A full 50% of Republicans who voted in D2 in 2014 chose not to in 2017. It might look like Republicans weren’t feeling it for Clawson but they also weren’t feeling it for Carter in D3. Carter had taken non-Republican positions such as supporting the wild places public spaces tax initiative and making the motion to raise the minimum wage for City workers which could have eroded his Republican base. But that story alone can’t account for a meager 49% retention of Republican voters from 2014 to 2017. Meanwhile Democrats netted a 70% turnout of people who voted in 2014.

Voted in 2014 and 2017 Gainesville Elections

At-Large Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 4331 70% 74% 1204 48% 20% 5884
Total Registered 6220 2531 9554
D2 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 1,689 73% 67% 672 50% 27% 2,529
Total Registered 2,326 1,346 4,040
D3 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 1,434 72% 72% 438 49% 22% 1,987
Total Registered 1,988 899 3,141
D1 and D4 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 1,195 63% 51% 95 33% 4% 2,354
Total Registered 1,888 287 3,155

The Found Voters:

There were 41,450 people who were registered to vote but didn’t cast ballots in 2014. A full 88% didn’t vote again in 2017 but of those that did 73% were Democrats. The Number of Republicans who didn’t vote in 2014 but chose to vote in 2017 was a pathetic 4% or 335 individuals. These are mostly long term residents of Gainesville and many of them have never voted in a city election before. The most likely causation here is the Trump effect. Indivisible, the Women’s March, and various resistance organizations have helped to fire up over two thousand new, long term city residents to vote.

Registered in 2014 and 2017 but did not vote in 2014

At-Large Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 2,153 9% 77% 335 4% 12% 2,812
Total Registered 22,873 55% 8317 20% 41,504
D2 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 925 14% 72% 203 6% 16% 1,284
Total Registered 64,07 51% 3,149 25% 12,446
D3 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 497 11% 76% 81 4% 12% 653
Total Registered 4,662 50% 2,132 23% 9,364
D1/D4 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 729 6% 83% 51 2% 6% 874
Total Registered 11,803 60% 3,036 15% 19,691

The New Voters:

There were ~37,000 people registered to vote in the City of Gainesville in 2017 who were not registered to vote in the city in 2014. Most of these people are voters who moved into the City from elsewhere in the state or even Alachua County but this also includes people who registered to vote for the first time. The vast majority of these people didn’t vote but about 1,400 who did were again disproportionately Democrats. The largest vote capture is in D2 where 16% of these new voters turned out. Overall 68% of the newly registered voters were Democrats and 68% of those that voted were Democrats. Again, Republicans had a pathetic 4% or 293 people turnout from this category in 2017.

2017 New Gainesville City Voters

2017 GNV New Voters Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 1,367 5% 68% 293 4% 14% 2,023
Total Registered 25,144 68% 8,006 22% 36,892
D2 2017 GNV New Voters Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 464 16% 62% 141 9% 19% 747
Total Registered 2,948 44% 1,648 25% 6,649
D3 2017 GNV New Voters Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 371 8% 62% 93 4% 16% 594
Total Registered 4,422 45% 2,148 22% 9,818
D1 and D4 2017 GNV New Voters Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 529 5% 74% 59 1% 8% 713
Total Registered 9,772 48% 4,209 21% 20,433

Conclusions:

This progressive wave election in Gainesville happened because Republican candidates were uniquely problematic and because there was a strong Trump effect pushing new city voters to the polls and keeping Republicans from turning out. Republicans and right wing operatives will blame the Democrats registration advantage but a 1.7% gain from 2014 can’t be the sole cause.

The truth is that progressives fired up their base to turnout like never before. They not only made sure that over 70% of those who cast ballots in 2014 did so in 2017, they also made sure that over 3,500 newly registered and longtime residents voted. This could be a precursor to the so called “Indivisible wave” pundits are predicting in 2018 in which Democrats turnout is large numbers and take the US House and Senate.

But this is only half the story. The other important piece for Gainesville in 2017 and the nation in 2018 is that Republicans are highly discouraged. There were large drop offs in all categories of voters and it all can’t be blamed on problematic candidates. Many Republicans are facing a massive disillusionment from Trump’s actions and are becoming discouraged by politics. This could very well have resulted in a record number of Republicans giving up on the electoral process and deciding not to vote in this past election.

This combination of an energized left and a depressed right will make 2018 a very interesting year for politics.

Gainesville City Election Preview

If you haven’t voted yet… GO VOTE! I have a handy voter guide here and you can find your voter location here. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about trying to understand what’s happening with voter trends and why.

It’s notoriously hard to predict city elections. They take place in March and usually have dismal turnout. In 2014 we had 15% turnout and in 2015 it was 12.6%. The 2016 city election coincided with the presidential primary so its data is skewed.

To start with we have a lot more voters in 2017. In 2014 there were ~72,000 voters and in 2015 there were ~73,000. Right now there’s 88,194 people qualified to vote in this city election. That breaks down to ~123% increase or a full 16,400 more voters. This is mostly due to the 2016 election voter registration drive, but nevertheless, if turnout and vote share stay the same as 2014 then we can expect some 6,800 votes on election day.

123 percent more.jpg

The Early Vote (EV) count lines up nicely but there’s far fewer Vote By Mail (VBM) ballots than expected. And to compound this oddity the trend has been for a higher vote share from VBM and a lower vote share from EV.

Vote History.jpg

What gives? The key is to see who is voting. In 2014 Republicans made up 28% of the voters at the polls, 22% EV, and 26% VBM.

2014 Vote Share.jpg

The Democrats, unions, and other left leaning groups have made major pushes to close the VBM partisan gap which was achieved in 2016. Over 90% of Democrats and over 95% of Republicans who cast their ballots by mail in 2017 also did so in November of 2016.

This could account for some of what we’re seeing this year but not all of it. The Republican vote share for EV is down to 15% and VBM is at 20%.

Vote Share 2017.jpg

Are the Republicans waiting for election day to vote? There were only some 60 more Republican VBM and some 30 more Republican EV votes cast in 2014. The demographic trends are favoring Democrats but not by these margins.

The prevailing theories are that Republicans are staying home because:

  • Carter in D3 is trying to appeal to Democrats
  • Clawson in D2 is a flawed candidate that Republicans aren’t excited about
  • Warren in At-Large can’t turn the chamber support into Republican turnout

But I don’t think these reasons tell the whole story.

Of the people who have voted so far 42% didn’t vote in 2015, 40% didn’t vote in 2014, and 31% didn’t vote in 2014 or 2015. Most of these are regular November voters who don’t vote in city elections. And these voters are overwhelmingly Democrats.

New Voters 2017

So what does this mean? It could mean that Clawson, Carter, and Warren are in big trouble. Carter is dropping A LOT of money in his race at the last minute. With the Chamber’s PAC mailers he’s spending well over $60,000 and some of that was for polling. Maybe they’re reading the same tea leaves.

It’s also very telling that the chamber has all but dropped Clawson from their outreach effort.

I did see the chamber putting out Facebook adverts for Warren in At-Large but no mail. And even those Facebook ads were short lived. Maybe they’re understanding the risk that their strong support could actually drive this electorate away from Warren.

But most excitingly this could also mean that the electoral push back to the Trump agenda is starting early. Could this be a sign of the so called “Indivisible Wave” expected in 2018?

Either way it’s terrible time to be a Republican in the Democratic stronghold of Gainesville.

Note: The numbers used here vary because of when they were pulled and how they were compiled but the general trends stand. 

2016 Election Journal

Election Journal: Day +3

What is there left to say? What is there left to do? How did this happen?

It certainly was not the doing of one man, or one election. Trump is the result of years of right-wing resentment and organizing. A lesson we cannot afford to ignore.

It started with the Tea Party. Led by Obama, the Democrats took the White House, Senate, and House in 2008. In 2010 the Tea Party wave danced with racist ideals like birtherism and brought right-wing fringe anti-establishment people such as Congressman Yoho into the fold (background on the Tea-Party). These guys caused a lot of headache for the Republican establishment but were thought of as a necessary faction of the party to win the White House in 2012. The Obama team won though. The Republican Party took a long hard look at itself and decided that they need to appeal to more minority voters. Their plan was to bring in conservative Latinos with “traditional values” via immigration reform. It might have worked, but the Tea Party blocked these efforts as they made their move for power in 2014 and effectively took over the party in 2016.

When you dance with the devil; the devil leads. Every time.

But it wasn’t taxes or Obamacare that united the new wing of the Republican party. It was white fear. When Trump talked about building a wall, deporting people, being politically correct, etc. it resonated because white people feel threatened. Their perceived place in society is being challenged. Most Trump voters think life was better 50 years ago while most Clinton voters think it’s better now (pew poll). The 60’s were the good ol’ days… for white people. Segregated fountains and schools. Leave it to Beaver on the air. Cross burnings every Saturday.

Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. But every goddamned racist voted for Trump. How many votes was that? Enough to put a racist in the White House.

Clinton lost Florida by some 120,000 votes with 74% Turnout. Obama won Florida in 2012 by some 75,000 votes with 72% turnout.

I haven’t gotten too into the numbers yet but I think the main reason Florida went to Trump is because North Florida was ignored. I-4 and SE Florida did their part but there was nothing happening in North Florida to stop Trump from running up the numbers. A last minute push in Duval County made them perform better than Obama in ’12 but it wasn’t enough. The same thing happened in 2010 and 2014 in Florida. Conservative democratic candidates don’t appeal to North Florida voters.

But  that’s just part of the story. White fear didn’t find an outlet in the Democratic party. The Dems pushed Clinton down our throats which alienated the progressive wing during an anti-establishment year. People of Color, especially African American youth were reluctant to vote for a woman who called them super predators two decades before. Hell, white union workers in the rustbelt remembered the Clinton role in NAFTA and voted against their union!

But in all Clinton lost because of her and the Democratic party. The ground game, data, etc. was all right on point but what can you do when the candidate is flat? When the party doesn’t speak to the working class? A major lesson here is that fear against an opponent is not enough.

The Democratic party needs to be taken apart and put back together or abandoned as an avenue of struggle. I’ve been asked by a lot of people what the next steps are. It’s simple: Organize and resist.

Some people are going to go into their Democratic Executive Committee’s and try to fix them. Good on you. Please send us progressive candidates to vote for as opposed to moderates who are only slightly better than the Republicans.

But for most of us the work will be about grassroots resistance to the Trump agenda. It will be about doing all we can to stop his backwards march of racism, attacks on the environment, and roll backs to worker protections. It’ll be about street marches and soft locks, bodies in the streets to stop deportations, resist police brutality. and clog up his rabid brand of capitalism. We’re going to make the GOP scream. And when we’re done, we’ll have a diverse coalition of working class people that’ll be unstoppable.


Election Journal: Day 0

In less than 24 hours this election will be done (barring a recount).

I had to make a tough call today. I’ll have maybe 25 people working for labor tomorrow and had to calculate the validity of a KKK threat at polling locations. Just rumors, nothing credible.

But how many people do I take off the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operations to run voter protection programs? Every person I take off  GOTV means a couple dozen voters missed. Am I diverting resources chasing ghosts? Is that what they want?

Do I want to send people to these polling locations despite even the slightest chance there could be a confrontation, or even violence?

I shouldn’t have to be dealing with this shit. It’s 2016 and I’m trying figure out how these ass-hats can still intimidate voters like it 1956.

Oy vey. Go fucking vote already. You’ve been called a thousand times and told to vote. Hell, even Queen Bee told you to vote. Here’s a voting guide to help. Need a ride to the polls? Call the NAACP at 352-870-7013. Message or call me if you need to know where to vote. Just go vote already so we can get on with pushing these shit politics like voter intimidation back into the trashcan of history, where they belong.


Election Journal: Day -4:

We knocked on nearly 4,000 doors with 140 canvass shifts this week.

We had 2 canvassers called racial slurs in Western Alachua County. While not unexpected it is disappointing and embarrassing.

There are three pillars to win an election in Florida:
1) Have a big turn out in SE Florida. Using this strategy alone cost Crist the governorship in 2014.
2) Engage the Latinx vote in the I-4 corridor. The new Puerto Rican residents, if they vote, could carry the state.
3) Contain the dumpster fire that is North Florida.

Pillar three is the weakest and most apt to crumble. The amount of time and resources spent on 1 and 2 is understandable but alone probably won’t be enough to carry the state. Over the last month my team has been begging for resources and people from everyone we could think of. Union presidents, old friends in different states… everyone.

One leader told me “I can’t send my people to Klan county”.

Another one said “let Trump take North Florida, we’ll take Central and South”.

I refuse to cede anything to Trump or the Klan.

I understand the sentiment that we’re just some backwards fools that need to be left to our own demise. I get it. But progressives in the South know that operating in this area tempers us. It’s hard, hard work. It’s discouraging at times but it’s important work that empowers communities under attack.

We’re running voter protection programs.

We’re going through the gauntlet to knock on doors everyone else has forgotten about.

We’re containing the dumpster fire the best we can.

And after this election mess dies down we’re going to keep building the progressive movement that pushes these backwards politics to the fringes where they belong.


Election Journal: Day -7:

I ran a canvass today in Palatka – precinct 39. It’s a predominately African American district in a gentrifying neighborhood. The first 4 houses I went to said they couldn’t vote because they’re felons. Outside the 5th house a group were sitting around, playing dominoes when I was asked to leave the neighborhood. Not because I’m a white dude in the black part of town but because “we’re all felons here, you’re in the hood” and that “they done forgot about us, go somewhere that still matters”.

Fuck. Heart. Broken. I remember when Gov. Scott stopped the automatic restoration of rights. Elections have consequences.

I go on and the houses get nicer. More middle class African American households. Talk to a few people. Get them rides to the polls. Talk a black Sanders supporter out of voting for Trump and for Clinton or Stein. I’m being followed.

A white lady wants to know what I’m doing. She owns a business nearby and wants to know if I’m helping with the voter fraud. We talk for a little and she tells me how Clinton has killed people. How she’s a closeted homosexual. How she is using mind control. I bit. I ask her “if she can use mind control then why is she having trouble in the polls right now”.

Her response. “It doesn’t work so well on white people.”

Rage headache. FEC compliance report. A beer with my wife. Prep walk packets for tomorrow. Staff a phone bank. Organize snacks for 29 release staff. 7 days.

2016 GENERAL ELECTIONS GUIDE – Alachua County

Update: 11/2/16: After a lot of conversations about Jill Stein I’d like to correct the record. Stein believes in vaccines and has a much more nuanced critique of the health effects of Wi-Fi. That said I still think she’s not speaking out against these and other conspiracy theories because she doesn’t want to lose their votes. This is dangerous but different than the way I presented her below. 


Vote by mail ballots were sent out on Wednesday (10/5) and should be in voters hand any day. You can request or track your ballot here.

You can skip the reasoning/background and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early from October 24th to November 5th from 9-6PM at:

You can also find your voting location here if you want to vote on election day (Nov 8th).

President:

Vote for Clinton. She’s a flawed, center/center-right candidate, but you should vote for her. Her politics don’t line up with mine but she has my vote because Trump and his brand of politics need to be soundly defeated. If you’re considering a third party candidate please know that Johnson is a far-right ass-hat that can’t name one foreign leader and Jill Stein is an anti-vaxer that thinks wi-fi causes disease. And if you’re considering voting for Trump… how did you find this blog?

US Senate:

Vote Patrick Murphy. He’s another center-right democrat (can we please find a progressive to run for office) who has very little chance of winning. His crowing achievement is that he’s not Marco Rubio.

Congress D-3

Vote for Ken McGurn. This is a very tough one for me. Ken McGurn is yet another center-right democrat with a problematic history. Tom Wells (NPA) has better politics but no chance of winning. None. Don’t tell me this year is somehow made of magic and Wells can win, because he can’t. I don’t fault people for voting for Wells over McGurn. I blame McGurn’s politics and his history of calling homeless people crooks, criminals, and rapist (sound like Trump much?). My recommendation is to vote for McGurn to defeat the far-right Tea Party joke that is Ted Yoho but tell him you have a problem with how he talks about homeless people.

Florida Senate-8

Vote for Rod Smith. This might be the most important race on the ticket as it’ll have major ramifications for state politics for years to come. Smith is a centrist Democrat with a problematic history. Hell, they made a documentary about one of them but he’s good on many other issues. He’s also not Keith Perry who famously tried to take away local wage theft ordinances while his business was being accused of wage theft. Perry also recently slapped a man and there’s a video of it.

Florida Representative-10

Vote for Jerry Bullard. If you live in High Springs you’ll have a chance to vote for Bullard. His wife is a union teacher and he fully supports public education. His opponent, Elizabeth Porter, is a rising star in the Republican Party. If Bullard can pull off an upset it’ll be a major blow to the Republican bench.

Florida Representative – 21

Vote for Marihelen Wheeler. This is the first true progressive on your ballot. She’s a retired union school teacher, environmentalist, immigration rights activist, folksy as hell, and an all around great person. Vote for her. Give her money. Volunteer your time with her. If she gets elected she’ll do amazing things for working people.

Clerk of the Court

Write in Sam Collins. J.K Irby is a good guy that will undoubtedly be elected but the circumstances surrounding his father’s retirement are shady and needsto be called out. A strong write in turnout will show that the actions leading to J.K Irby being the only name on the ballot didn’t go unnoticed.

Sheriff:

Saddie Darnell has terrible politics. She lead the state wide charge against medical marijuana and her constant fighting with the County Commission is tiresome. Jake Jacobs is a Republican. If you can stomach voting for a Republican, go for it. If you can’t and can’t vote for Darnell – write in Pat Fitzpatrick. (Note: This is a insider joke. You can’t actually vote for a write in)

County Commissioners:

Write in candidates names won’t appear on the ballot but you can still vote for them. They are there due to a loophole in the primary law which allowed them to close out the recent August primary. It’s very unlikely that a Republican can be elected to the Alachua County Commission so most of them threw their support behind conservative Democrats. If the primary was open then the Republicans would have voted for these conservative Democrats and they would have won. The write-in candidates made sure that only Democrats voted in the primary election spoiling their plans and protecting the integrity of a Democratic primary.

While this worked well for progressives in Alachua County it also worked well for conservatives in Republican led counties. In Jacksonville a campaign manager closed out the primary of the much despised State Attorney Angela Corey. She ended up losing but the actions of her campaign manager locked out progressive voices and people of color who had major issues with her. In the outlying counties the far-right used this tactic to ensure that only the most reactionary are elected to office.

Write them in as a protest to the broken closed primary system if you want, I’ve considered it. I strongly supported Byery and Hutch in their primaries and will be voting for them again. I don’t know any of them or their reasons for running but Chloe seems to have great politics.

Vote Mike Byerly for County Commission 1.

Vote Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson for County Commission 3.

Write in Chloe Michelle Goldbach for County Commission 5.

Justice of the Supreme Court and District Court of Appeals:

Vote YES to retain all Judges. I don’t think judges should be able to be recalled. It’s bad for the justice system and democracy.  Here’s a quick read on the topic.

Amendments and Questions:

Vote NO on Constitutional Amendment 1 – the so called solar amendment is backed by the utility companies and would hamper individuals from putting up panels (link).

Vote YES on Constitutional Amendment 2 – this medical marijuana amendment isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. It’ll allow people with certain, really debilitating illnesses, to use marijuana legally.

Vote YES on Constitutional Amendment 3 – this amendment would exempt first respondents (police officers and firefighters) who are permanently disabled in the line of duty from ad valorem taxes.

Vote YES on Constitutional Amendment 5 – extends the homestead tax break to poor senior citizens. Poor elderly people in the state need this relief.

Vote YES on Alachua County Question 1 – the one mil for schools tax is really important for Alachua County. This tax goes to pay for art and music teachers, technology purchases, and nurses at every school. If you think kids, especially those who are poor and/or of color, should get a well rounded education then you should vote for this.

Vote YES on Alachua County Question 2 – The “Wild Places Public Spaces” tax goes to purchases conservation land and to build parks. This tax has gone to make Alachua County the unique place of culture and nature that I love.

november-ballot

Alachua County Primary Predictions – 2016

Polls close tomorrow, Tuesday August 30th at 7 PM. If you haven’t voted already please do. You can find your polling location here and my recommendations here.

My predictions:

  • Turnout will be ~23% (for Dems).
  • Hutch, Roy, Barton and Amendment 4 will win in landslides.
  • Byerly and Darnell will win with ~55%.
  • Murphy and Bullard (HD-10) will win decidedly.

Closed Democratic Primary for County Commissioners and Sheriff:

We’re on track for a turnout in the low 20’s. We might break 25% if there’s a major push for turnout on election day.

Dem votes as of 8/28
Voted Early 6202
Voted By Mail 7071
At the Polls 0
Total 13273
Turnout so far 15.41%

Unlikely voters, those who have voted in 0 of 3 or 1 of 3 previous primaries are making up less than 30% of the vote. Note that this doesn’t take into account the newly registered who didn’t have an opportunity to vote in previous elections. There’s a lot of people in Gainesville who are young and/or registered for the first time due to the presidential primary and are voting for the first time during this election cycle. If there was an anti-incumbent surge I’d expect a higher vote share from unlikely voters.

Primary Voting Total People
0 of 3 1,096 8.26%
1 of 3 2,833 21.34%
2 of 3 2,874 21.65%
3 of 3 6,470 48.75%
Total People 13,273

There have been major efforts to turnout the African-American vote the previous Sunday and this past Saturday. The payoff has been good for unlikely voters but the overall effect has been small. African-Americans make up a disproportionately higher share of unlikely voters so far but the total vote share is still low. It seems that the majority of people early voting were regular voters. In fact, the vote share of African-Americans has gone down from 24.5% on Tuesday (8/23) to 22.8% by Sunday (8/28). The total vote share of African-Americans is likely to go down further unless there’s a massive turnout on Tuesday.

Primary Voting
Race/Ethnicity: Voting as of 8/28/16
African American % Asian % Caucasian %
0 of 3 419 38.23 15 1.37 616 56.2
1 of 3 657 23.19 56 1.98 2,000 70.6
2 of 3 608 21.16 29 1.01 2,154 74.95
3 of 3 1,342 20.74 37 0.57 4,996 77.22
Total People 3,026 22.8 137 1.03 9,766 73.58
Primary Voting
Race/Ethnicity: Voting as of 8/28/16
Hispanic % Native American % Total People
0 of 3 41 3.74 4 0.36 1,096 8.26%
1 of 3 112 3.95 8 0.28 2,833 21.34%
2 of 3 67 2.33 13 0.45 2,874 21.65%
3 of 3 82 1.27 12 0.19 6,470 48.75%
Total People 302 2.28 37 0.28 13,273

The early voters so far are the people who put these incumbents into office to begin with. I expect ~6,500 people to vote at the polls on Tuesday. They are likely to be younger and more diverse then those who have already voted; but there would have to be a lot of them to make a difference at this point considering the numbers.


Alachua County School Board:

This race is seeing a lot of turnout with Republicans and likely voters. For a winning Kinsey coalition there should be a lot of young, African-American, and unlikely voters as well as a high Republican turnout.

All County Voters as of 8/29
Voted Early 8235
Voted By Mail 12195
At the Polls 0
Total 20430
Turnout so far 11.24%

The vote share of African-Americans drops to less than 16% for the School Board but the number of unlikely voters is still disproportionately higher, especially for those who have not voted in any of the last three primaries.

Primary Voting
Race/Ethnicity: Voting as of 8/28/16
African American % Asian % Caucasian %
0 of 3 505 25.12 47 2.34 1,361 67.71
1 of 3 707 17.02 93 2.24 3,163 76.16
2 of 3 643 14.05 51 1.11 3,745 81.84
3 of 3 1,385 14.29 56 0.58 8,116 83.75
Total People 3,240 15.86 247 1.21 16,385 80.2
Primary Voting
Race/Ethnicity: Voting as of 8/28/16
Hispanic % Native American % Total People
0 of 3 87 4.33 7 0.35 2,010 9.84%
1 of 3 178 4.29 12 0.29 4,153 20.33%
2 of 3 111 2.43 23 0.5 4,576 22.40%
3 of 3 115 1.19 18 0.19 9,691 47.44%
Total People 491 2.4 60 0.29 20,430

The vote share of Republicans, who have their own primary for HD-21 right now, is 27.5%. Even if every non Democrat voted for Kinsey (which they’re not) it wouldn’t be enough to carry a winning coalition.

Primary Voting
Party: Voting as of 8/28/16
Democrats % Green % Libertarian %
0 of 3 1,096 54.53 2 0.1 12 0.6
1 of 3 2,833 68.22 6 0.14 12 0.29
2 of 3 2,874 62.81 2 0.04 11 0.24
3 of 3 6,470 66.76 2 0.02 4 0.04
Total People 13,273 64.97 12 0.06 39 0.19
Primary Voting
Party: Voting as of 8/28/16
Other % Republicans % Unaffiliated %
0 of 3 60 2.99 308 15.32 532 26.47
1 of 3 52 1.25 873 21.02 377 9.08
2 of 3 50 1.09 1,394 30.46 245 5.35
3 of 3 24 0.25 3,047 31.44 144 1.49
Total People 186 0.91 5,622 27.52 1,298 6.35

The millennial vote (those under 35) hasn’t turned out in large numbers yet. They do make up a disproportionate share of first time primary and unlikely voters. A phenomenon that’s likely exaggerated due to many of them recently registering to vote for the first time. People over 65 make up just under half of the votes cast so far. This is likely going to go down on election day but the trend will most likely hold. Old people vote much, much more often than young people especially in non-presidential elections.

Primary Voting 18 to 24 % 25 to 34 % 35 to 49 %
0 of 3 198 9.85 301 14.98 404 20.1
1 of 3 354 8.52 520 12.52 689 16.59
2 of 3 105 2.29 264 5.77 619 13.53
3 of 3 44 0.45 195 2.01 711 7.34
Total People 701 3.43 1,280 6.27 2,423 11.86
Primary Voting 50 to 64 % 65+ % Total People
0 of 3 581 28.91 523 26.02 2,010
1 of 3 1,198 28.85 1,392 33.52 4,153
2 of 3 1,452 31.73 2,136 46.68 4,576
3 of 3 2,708 27.94 6,033 62.25 9,691
Total People 5,939 29.07 10,084 49.36 20,430

I know all the campaigns are going to be pulling out all the stops until polls close; but Kinsey and Thorpe have an uphill battle ahead of them.

2016 Alachua County Elections Guide

EDIT: 8/28/16:
After talking to people at the Grayson (US Senate) and Zedalis (Alachua Sheriff) campaigns and community members whose support they’ve earned I’d like to encourage everyone to support  them. Their politics are better than their opponents and there’s so much doubt in their domestic violence cases to warrant a support. Thank you to the strong feminist who took the time to talk me through this.


You can skip the reasoning and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early though Saturday, August 27th from 9-5PM (6PM on Thursday) at:

You can also find your voting location here if you want to vote on election day

The easy stuff:

  • Hutch vs McDaniel for County Commission 3 is going to be a land slide for Hutch. I like McDaniel and hope he runs for something again. I’ll be voting for Hutch because he’s been a champion for working families and the environment.
  • Kim Barton for Supervisor of Elections. While all the candidates are very qualified I think she’ll do the best for outreach which will help drive up voter turnout.
  • Yes on Amendment 4. It’ll make solar energy cheaper.

The not so easy stuff:

US Senate:

The US Senate race in Florida became seemingly un-competitive as soon a Rubio decided to use the Pulse Massacre as cause to run for reelection. The sole redeeming quality of the center-right, New Democrat Murphy was that he was electable. Have you seen his polling numbers among Latinos? Grayson’s domestic violence accusations cannot be dismissed simply because he is a progressive firebrand. I’m voting for Pam Keith because I can’t support a wife beater and Murphy’s a dud. I don’t think she’ll win the nomination and I don’t think any of them can beat Rubio.

Alachua County Sheriff:

Darnell vs Zedalis for Sheriff is the least interesting race for me. Darnell lead the state wide charge against medical marijuana and her constant fighting with the County Commission is tiresome.  It looked like Zedalis was the obvious alternative until he was fired this year for domestic violence. It’s a complicated case but I don’t feel comfortable advocating for anyone with these allegations lobbed at him. Read up on Zedalis. If you believe his story and don’t mind his pro NRA stance vote for him. If not, write in Pat Fitzpatrick.

The hard decisions:

There are only 2 races that really interest me for the August 30th election in Alachua County. Complicated histories between the Chamber of Commerce, white environmentalist, and the African American community has come to a head. Most of the issues stem from Envision Alachua. If you need to get caught up The Fine Print has a pretty comprehensive read on it. The short and long of it is that African American people in Alachua County, like much of America, are more poor, have less opportunity, and are less healthy than their white neighbors. The mostly white environmentalist opposed the plan which promised economic salvation to the African American community at the cost of sensitive wet lands. The two incumbent candidates in this race are white and have been steadily against Envision Alachua while the two insurgent candidates are African American and supportive.

Byerly vs Thorpe for County Commission 1:

The Gainesville Sun’s endorsement of Thorpe came as a shock to me. What was more shocking though was how they gave him a pass on his anti-gay sermon and his funding sources. I think Thorpe can come back from both of these but hasn’t had the opportunity to because he hasn’t been pushed.

One argument against Byerly that is sticking is that he served 16 years as a commissioner. While hard to unpack concisely- the entire notion of term limits is undemocratic and highly corrosive to a functioning government. If institutional knowledge isn’t kept with our elected officials it will rest in un-elected staff and lobbyist. But the sound bite that Byerly is career politician plays well.

In the end I support Byerly because he has supported the issues that matter most to me.

Note: due to the loophole in Florida’s open primary law only Democrats can vote in the County Commission races on August 30th

Kinsey vs Roy for School Board 2:

The incumbent, Eileen Roy was on the planning board and firmly opposed to Envision Alachua. With her already tainted in the eyes of the African American community she then helped push school Superintendent Dr. Owens out. I was never a fan of Dr. Owens. He brought religion into the school system, took condoms away from youths,  and was known for being unsupportive towards teachers. What pushed Roy and two others to ask for his resignation was when he was accused of plagiarizing in his self published book.

The main issue I have with Kinsey isn’t his age or experience. I’m sure he’d do a fine job. It gives me pause that he’s funded by a lot of right wing and reactionary sources. What really worries me is that he seems to be supporting people whose politics I despise. I’ve yet to get a good explanation as to why Thorpe and Kinsey were at Kieth Perry’s campaign kick off (starts at 2:40).

The main reason I support Eileen Roy because those that work for her support her (see: Alachua County Education Association).

A full listing of candidates can be found here.

2016 primary sample ballot.jpg