The Nose

The Nose: Your absolutely official 2016 election winners and losers

Wow! Tuesday’s election was a knockout — fortunately, newsroom EMTs were on hand to administer smelling salts, rousing the Sniff from a results-induced stupor, just in time to announce this year’s real winners and losers.

LOSERS

1. Tuesday’s electoral winners who ran unopposed.

Talk about losers! Sheriff Paul Pastor, Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan, and state Reps. Jake Fey and Laurie Jinkins claimed crushing victories over their nonexistent opponents. What a show of strength!

Yeah, right — until you dig deep into the numbers. See, every race includes a sneaky little stat called “under votes.” These, in the highly technical language of election geeks, refer to those instances “when the voter failed to make a choice for the race.”

Failure is such a harsh word, isn’t it? It gives the impression of a deep psychic struggle: the voter’s pen poised over the ballot, faced with the dilemma of only one choice, until said voter collapses from sheer exhaustion. Instead of failure, imagine an upraised middle finger. Measured on that scale, it’s possible to view under votes as an unpopularity contest.

Failure is such a harsh word, isn’t it? It gives the impression of a deep psychic struggle: the voter’s pen poised over the ballot, faced with the dilemma of only one choice, until said voter collapses from sheer exhaustion. Instead of failure, imagine an upraised middle finger.

Let’s go to the Sniff’s Big Board! Try to visualize the fancy Nose-touch-screen (™) graphic display. (Corporate paid a ton for it, even if you can’t see it.)

The four unopposed candidates generated plenty of under votes, but it’s not fair to compare raw numbers. Pastor and Lonergan ran countywide. Jinkins and Fey faced a smaller group of voters in Tacoma’s 27th Legislative District. Take a look at under votes as a percentage of total votes (including a smattering of write-ins). These were the stats, based on Thursday’s ballot counts from the county auditor:

Pastor — 33.7 percent

Lonergan — 35.2 percent

Jinkins — 36.1 percent

Fey — 36.6 percent

Oh no! Jovial Jake Fey, a Democrat, takes the unpopularity cake. More than 36 percent of the votes in his race went to Candidate Blank, always a strong performer.

It’s hard to gauge the effect on Fey’s unassailable victory, but it’s sure to plague him as he takes the oath of office for a third term. (Voice in Jake’s head: “C’mon man — only 63.3 percent? You’re slipping.”)

2. Jerry Gibbs

Pierce County’s courtly referendum king got swamped Tuesday. He and his activist colleagues backed a pair of county charter review amendments.

What’s that? You don’t know what those are? Don’t feel bad — most people don’t, because most people have lives. The county charter is a bit like the state constitution, except it’s for the county, and the fonts are smaller. It’s every bit as entertaining as the owner’s manual for your vacuum cleaner, except more so, because voters get a chance to add words every few years.

The county charter is a bit like the state constitution, except it’s for the county, and the fonts are smaller. It’s every bit as entertaining as the owner’s manual for your vacuum cleaner, except more so, because voters get a chance to add words every few years.

During the most recent charter review go-round, Gibbs and his fellow activists laid siege to the 21-member charter review commission, one of the county’s most exciting government subsets. The effort produced two proposals that would have made it easier to bring initiatives and referenda to the local ballot by lowering the threshold of required signatures.

Initiative lovers hoped the proposals would pass. County voters — trending conservative, mind you — crushed both of them under their hob-nailed boots. They also backed a separate proposal that allows the prosecutor’s office to review such measures before signature-gathering starts, to make sure said measures are, you know, legal.

In short, the greatest number of voters in county history just made local initiatives harder to get on the ballot. Gibbs and like-minded sorts call their group Let Voters Decide. The Sniff is no expert, but it looks like voters just did.

3. Tina Podlodowksi

Poor T-Pod. She was the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, in a blue state where voters picked Hillary Clinton for Prez and Democrats across the board for statewide offices. Big Jay Inslee (Guv), Cyrus “Shades” Habib (Lt. Guv), and other Ds cruised to easy victories.

With all those intangibles in her favor, T-Pod couldn’t close the deal. Incumbent Republican Kim Wyman waved her off, slo-mo Matrix-style. Even in super-blue King County, T-Pod’s home base and the state’s Democratic stronghold, she barely cleared the 60 percent threshold, while Inslee and Habib ran 10 points higher.

As any veteran Dem can tell you, that’s not quite good enough to take the state when voters in Pierceland and far-flung Snohomish County pick the Republican by wide margins. Maybe T-Pod’s relatively poor showing in King County had something to do with a campaign marked by odd snark and wild accusations. Time to blame the consultants!

Winners

1. Hillary Clinton

Yeah, yeah (dodges rotten fruit). Look, she waxed Republican Donald Trump in Pierce County by a 50-41 margin, and she took 10 of the state’s 39 counties. Republican grumblers will blame Seattle as usual, but a big chunk of Clinton’s support came from other places where actual people live.

2. Pat McCarthy

Pierceland’s outgoing county exec just became your new state auditor, and the first woman to hold the office, if The Sniff’s musty archives can be trusted. She was the first female county exec, too, though that’s a shorter record, since the exec’s chair didn’t exist before 1981.

Bonus baseball card asterisk: Nobody thinks about this stuff except the Sniff, but McCarthy has prevailed in every election she entered, going all the way back to 1987, when she was a mere Tacoma school board member. It’s gotta be the glasses.

Bonus baseball card asterisk: Nobody thinks about this stuff except the Sniff, but McCarthy has prevailed in every election she entered, going all the way back to 1987, when she was a mere Tacoma school board member. It’s gotta be the glasses.

3. Bruce Dammeier

Your new county exec is quite the odds-bucker, no? He’s only the second Republican to win the chair, and the first without a base in Tacoma. Boisterous Bruce calls Puyallup home, and he even knows how to pronounce it.

Who knows, maybe he just turned himself into a major player among the state’s Republicans. Imagine a possible run Dammeier run for the Guv’s office down the line, following the trail marked by ’80s-era exec Booth Gardner. Far-fetched? Sure. But if you scan the statewide bench for R candidates with similar ambitions, who else you gonna pick?

4. County Councilman Dan Roach

Results were still too close to call Thursday, but Dangerous Dan’s mom, state Sen. Pam Roach, was falling just short in her bid to join her son on the Pierce County Council.

The prospect was supposed to be historic and everything, the whole idea of a mother and son serving on the County Council together, until you really thought about a mother and son serving on the County Council together.

It’s still possible, but if the numbers hold, it won’t happen. Such a pity — The Sniff had a whole scenario in mind involving family portraits at Sears.

Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @thenosetribune

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