As a lot of you know, I handled Tripp Self’s campaign for Superior Court in the Macon Judicial District. We just about made it to 40% and we’re about 17% ahead of our competitor, which puts us in a very good position. Historically, it is a virtual impossibility to beat someone going into a runoff with that margin of victory going in — especially when we can tell that of the three candidates who did not get into the runoff, their vote share will overwhelmingly go to Tripp.
So, heading into the runoff, I have some thoughts on election law changes regarding runoffs.
While Tripp would not meet the criteria given that he did not make it to 45%, I do think that in nonpartisan races if a candidate gets to 45% there should be no need for a runoff. i think we should still get to 50% in partisan races because there is much more temptation to attract a third party candidate intent only in dragging down the perceived front runner. Likewise, in partisan contests, setting the bar to 45% hurts the Libertarians who, I think, help keep the GOP in line on the fiscal side with the knowledge that they can’t piss off enough people to really make the Libertarian significantly competitive.
In a nonpartisan race, however, those calculations generally go out the window. Nonpartisan runoffs, which don’t have party infrastructure to back them, have low turn out and cost a lot of money to run, both for the candidates and for the local elections officials. I think it would be best for everyone that a lower bar than 50% be set. If the legislature feels more comfortable, they could make it 45%, provided the closest challenger trail by 5% or more, to make sure they aren’t pre-empting what could otherwise be a viable shot for the second place finisher who was only hurt by a third party with minimal support.