Aug 272011
 

Tony Santos is at it again.  Since being defeated by Stephen Cassidy in the November 2010 San Leandro mayoral election, Santos has made no secret of his bitterness and resentment.  He has blamed anyone and everyone (excluding himself) for his defeat and has committed his forced retirement to the cause of defeating “ranked choice voting” throughout the country.  He’s written letters, had himself interviewed, and in his latest stunt, he testified in Sacramento against making it easier for California cities to institute ranked choice voting.  He is sure, he will tell you, that ranked choice voting was the ultimate culprit for his loss.  And he may be right.

It is difficult, even for insiders, to get a good grasp of the 2010 mayoral campaign in San Leandro.  Santos  had been in and out of City Hall for decades.  He was running for re-election as Mayor with the support of Labor, fire fighters, and, at the 11th hour, the police.  He was confident, even cocky, that he would easily win.  After all, no elected-mayor had ever lost  re-election in San Leandro (one appointed mayor, who’d promised not to run prior to his appointment, did lose).  Incumbents have many advantages in city races: they enjoy name recognition, can easily gather up endorsements and have a much easier time raising money – nobody wants to say no to a sitting Mayor or City Council member.  In addition, voters who don’t pay particular attention to city politics and are not extremely dissatisfied with city services, tend to vote for incumbents.  For this reason, sitting San Leandro mayors seldom face serious competition; it was almost incomprehensible to Santos that he would face not just one, but two credible opponents.

Council woman Joyce Starosciak seemed like an unlikely Mayoral contender.  In 2010, she was half-way through her second term in office, and could list few accomplishments and fewer long-term plans for San Leandro.  If her intentions were to actually run the city, it’d have made the most sense for her to wait until 2014 to run, when Santos would be termed out.  Starosciak, however, was in a hurry. As Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s heiress apparent, Starosciak was posed to run for Assembly in 2012. She’d be better positioned to win if she did so as Mayor of San Leandro, than as a mere City Council member.  She had good reason to believe she could win: a top campaign manager, lots of money (including some from a Hayashi-associated PAC), and support from the police (her husband is a sheriff deputy with Alameda County).   Most importantly, Starosciak was a woman.  After Ellen Corbett was elected to the California Senate in 2006, defeating better funded male opponents, the conventional wisdom within political circles was that women had a natural advantage in democratic districts (and San Leandro is heavily democratic). Starosciak’s main message during her campaign was indeed “I’m a woman and a native of San Leandro.”  It was a message that Santos feared.

Stephen Cassidy’s reasons for running in 2010 were murkier.  He had been elected to the San Leandro School Board in 2004, after defeating a well-connected incumbent, but after four tumultuous years in the Board he’d chosen not to seek re-election (he had, however, engineered the election of two friendly candidates in his stead).  He had long been rumored to have further political ambitions so it wasn’t a complete surprise when he decided to run for Mayor.  He did so basically with a message of competency: “elect me and get someone who can actually read a budget and think long term.”  Cassidy’s political strategy was to appeal to distinct voter groups with slightly different messages: to conservatives and the elderly, with a message of fiscal responsibility; to parents, with promises of better relations between the cities and the schools; to Spanish and Chinese speaking voters, with fliers in their own languages.  Cassidy’s underdog status meant that he was unable to get big donations from corporations and PACs, but he made up for it by building an impressive grass-root apparatus and tapping into the professional experience of his supporters.  Cassidy recruited a former evangelist for Apple Computer, an expert on messaging, as his campaign manager.  A local graphic designer put tens of hours of work into his campaign literature and his website  while a top computer programmer provided back end and mailing list support. Another techie was in charge of his voter data analysis.  The other candidates had to pay tens of thousands of dollars for similar services.  Meanwhile, an army of volunteers organized fundraisers and house coffees, walked, telephoned, wrote letters and passed on fliers for his campaign (full disclosure, I helped Cassidy with his campaign in the initial months).  Cassidy himself spent over a year walking the streets of San Leandro and introducing himself to voters.  His was a grass-root campaign at its best.

The November 2010 San Leandro city election was the first time in which ranked choice voting (RCV) , also known as “instant runoff voting,” would be used in San Leandro.  The city had amended its charter to permit ranked choice voting early in 2000, but had only implemented it a few months before.  The appeal of RCV to city staff was that it allowed for both general elections and runoffs to be conducted at one time, saving staff time and the city money.  Progressive members of the City Council liked that RCV allowed elections to be held in November (rather than June), which meant they’d have greater voter participation.  However, RCV was not popular with all City Council members.  Starosciak, in particular, wanted to change San Leandro’s elections back to a plurality system, where the candidate that got the most votes would win, even if s/he did not reach 50% of the votes.  Given the assumption that female candidates had a natural advantage with the electorate, Starosciak figured a plurality system would virtually guarantee her winning.  Her plan never got much traction with the other members of the Council, however.

As discussions for implementing ranked choice voting got more serious in early 2010, then-Mayor Tony Santos became its biggest advocate.  He was seduced by the rhetoric of Fair Vote, an organization that lobbies for RCV, and convinced by his friends in Labor to push the City into implementing RCV for the 2010 elections.  He went as far as suspending a tied vote on RCV, so that a City Council member that had been absent for the vote could break the tie and have the ordinance pass.  Santos later said that supported RCV because he had been told RCV mostly benefited incumbents.

As the 2010 Mayoral race developed, none of the campaigns had a firm grasp on who the top contenders were and how RCV would play into the equation.  The Santos campaign conducted an informal telephone poll at the end of the summer which showed Santos in the lead, with Starosciak a distant second.  Though the poll was methodologically flawed, Santos took it as a sign that he would easily win and that Cassidy wasn’t a threat of any kind.  While he delighted in attacking Cassidy through a friendly blogger, he didn’t feel compelled to put much effort into his campaign.  He rarely walked, never fliered, and his first mailer did not even arrive until several days after absentee voters had received their mail-in ballots (ideally, you want to have your mailer arrive at the same time as the ballots, so your name is fresh in the mind of those voters who like to vote right away).  It wasn’t until mid-October that Santos’ campaign realized that Cassidy posed a considerable threat: more and more people  they encountered were openly supporting Cassidy, the city was blanketed with his lawn signs, and letters to the papers were overwhelmingly in Cassidy’s favor.  Santos’ campaign quickly issued a mailer answering Cassidy’s charges against him and put forth robo-calls from, among others, Senator Ellen Corbett, urging voters to vote for him.  This helped him enormously with poll-day voters, but it was too late to impact those who had already mailed their ballots.

Starosciak’s campaign was in trouble from the moment Cassidy entered the race.  As most challengers, Starosciak needed to run on a message of  “change,” but as a sitting member of the City Council there was just so far she could carry this message without convincing voters that they should vote for Cassidy, the outsider, instead.  Cassidy’s criticism of City Council’s actions – like spending all the city’s reserves – while primarily aimed at Santos, also applied to her.  She couldn’t answer the charges, however, without helping Santos’ own campaign.  Her strategy, then, seemed to be to keep out of the fray and run on her gender, personal charm and San Leandro native status.   While she ran a more energetic campaign than Santos, and hired people to walk and make phone calls for her campaign, she never really acquired much momentum.  By the fall, even the police had abandoned her and co-endorsed Santos.

Cassidy, meanwhile, kept pushing his message of “competence” and “fiscal accountability,” accusing City Hall of mismanagement at every possible turn.  His big issue was “pension reform” for City employees.  This made him terribly unpopular with the employee unions and Labor but hit a nerve with local voters as even the Democratic candidates for Governor and State Treasurer started to talk about the need for pension reform at the state level.

Of the three campaigns, the only one that seemed to take RCV into account was Cassidy’s.  As he and his supporters walked and called voters, they specifically asked those who expressed support for one of the other candidates, to mark Cassidy as their second choice.  Neither of the other two campaigns seem to have done this.  Indeed, Santos’ campaign showed contempt for the whole RCV process by telling supporters to not mark second or third choices.

One of the biggest criticisms of ranked choice voting is that final election results were not available until weeks after election night.  This proved to be the case in San Leandro.  Election night results had Santos winning the first round by 62 votes (out of over 20,000 cast); two weeks later, when all second and third place votes had been counted, Cassidy was ahead by 232 votes and was declared the winner.  Santos could not accept the results, and to this day he has not conceded defeat.

At first glance, it would appear that Santos is right when he blames RCV for his defeat.  He did have 62 more 1st-place votes than Cassidy and in a plurality system like the one Starosciak advocated, Santos would have won.  However, San Leandro specifically got rid of plurality elections in 2000, after Ellen Corbett and Shelia Young became mayor with less than 50% of the total vote.  San Leandrans did not want a mayor which the majority of the people had not elected.

Had RCV not been implemented in San Leandro, the Mayoral elections would have taken place in June 2010, with the two top candidates facing a runoff in November. Given the lack of independent, accurate polling data (polls are too expensive to conduct for most local elections), it’s impossible to say what would have happened if that had been the case.  Starosciak only received about 20% of the first-choice vote in November, so it’s reasonable to believe she wouldn’t have been one of the two top vote-getters in June, but a longer campaign cycle together with the increased media attention to Cassidy’s pet issue, pension reform, probably benefited Cassidy considerably.  It definitely allowed him more time for both campaigning and fundraising.

But had Cassidy and Santos been the top vote-getters in June, it is by no means clear who would have won in November.  Santos would have surely benefitted both by knowing who his real opponent was and how popular he was.  If the election had been as close in June as the first round was in November, Santos would surely have seen the need to step up his campaign.  Given how well he did with poll-day voters once he took campaigning seriously, that may very well have given him a victory.

On the other hand, a June-November election cycle might also have benefited Cassidy. Cassidy’s main problem, as is the case with all underdog challengers, was raising enough funds to put forth a credible campaign. A good June placement would have demonstrated to political contributors that Cassidy was a very viable candidate and would have likely opened their wallets.  Such placement would also have re-energized Cassidy’s volunteers and brought additional supporters into the campaign.

An additional factor that cannot be accurately assessed is who Starosciak would have endorsed.  After her November defeat she was quite bitter with both Santos (who made a series of serious personal attacks against her during the campaign) and Cassidy (whom she sees as having stolen the election from her), so it’s hard to envision her supporting either.

In any case, we will never know. We also don’t know how the November 2010 San Leandro RCV election will affect future elections in San Leandro or elsewhere.  Future candidates will hopefully learn of the importance of seeking 2nd and 3rd choice votes.  Note that this does not mean that candidates will necessarily run “kinder,” less negative campaigns.  Candidates in races with clear front runners need to attack their records in order to take votes from them.  If anything, what an RCV election may do is focus political attacks on the front runner(s), but that is just as true in regular elections.

When all is said and done, Santos has nobody to blame for his defeat but himself: he antagonized voters by treating them callously during public fora and by taking unpopular positions (e.g. not supporting San Leandro Hospital, dismissing fears about crime and supporting a large affordable housing project), he put little effort into running his campaign and he did not take RCV into consideration in his campaign strategy.  Other incumbents can learn from his mistakes.

  25 Responses to “RCV in San Leandro: A Primer to the Nov. 2010 Mayoral Election”

  1. http://rankedchoicevoting.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/naacp-compares-rcv-to-poll-tax.pdf

    NAACP concerned about discriminatory aspect of RCV.

    As someone who has voiced concern about minority representation how does this article effect your thoughts on RCV?

    • You know, I read the article and I understand their fears, but I think they are misplaced. I think that people are smart enough to figure out how to fill out a ballot, and a RCV ballot is not significantly more complex than a regular ballot. It’s not as if people are not asked to rank their preferences in all sorts of other contexts. And while I know these fears were expressed by someone from an NAACP chapter, I find the implication that minorities, the elderly and voters with limited English skills are stupider than average voters, very disturbing.

      What I do find problematic is that while the ballot itself is not particularly complicated, and the concept of ranking candidates by order of preference is quite familiar, the actual mechanisms through which votes are passed from round to round are not so self-evident. Many people, including some of the candidates and their campaign consultants, seemed quite confused as to how it worked after the last election. Now, I know the Registar of Voters did a lot of voter education, but I think they really have to do more next time around and simplify the explanations. Now, I don’t think that the lack of understanding of how the RCV algorithms works disenfranchised anyone, but candidates MUST understand them in order to campaign effectively under RCV.

      I’m even more concerned about the fact that voters are only allowed to mark their top 3-choices. Apparently, this is a physical problem with having paper ballots, but the effect is that in elections with 5 or more candidates, not all voters end up casting a vote in the last round. Say that candidates A, B, C, D and E are running, and I vote for A – B – C in that order, but D and E are the ones who make it to the last round. I won’t get a chance to vote for either of them, as I’ve exhausted my three choices. Now, this is not something likely to affect many voters, but I find it troublesome that we disenfranchise anyone at any point in the voting counting process.

      All this said, I’m still in support of RCV. I think through RCV more voters get to have a voice than under a runoff system.

      • Having worked the polls as an RCV ‘go to’ person, it was incredible to see how many people did not understand the concept. Even more incredible was seeing how many people did not know how to complete a ballot.. but worse than that was people voting on issues they had not studied with no idea of the consequences of their vote.

        • Interesting this was your experience, Marguerite. Alameda County election officials say it was far from the norm, and this study has some concrete numbers:
          http://www.fairvote.org/san-leandro-facts

          * Out of all San Leandro voters who participated in the mayoral race, 99.8% cast a valid ballot.

          * 75% of San Leandro voters used RCV to express a preference between two or more candidates for mayor.

          * 11% more San Leandro voters participated in this year’s mayoral election than the November 2006 election. More voters cast ballots in the final round of the RCV race between Stephen Cassidy and Tony Santos than voted in the 2006 election.

          * 54% more voters participated in this year’s RCV mayoral election than participated in the June 2006 first round vote for mayor. This means that far more voters took the opportunity to choose among the entire field of mayoral candidates than in the previous election. …

        • Interesting, marguerite. Did you find that it was a particular type of voter (elderly, minority, non-English speaker) that had problems with the ballot, or was it across the board? And did they only have problems with the RCV part of the ballot, or ballots in general?

          Rich, it may be that voters were able to complete their ballots because there were people like Marguerite around to explain the process to them. You say that 75% of voters marked at least 2 choices, do you know if the rates were the same for mail-in ballots and poll-day ballots?

    • Terry Reilly of San Jose is at it again. Terry runs an anti-RCV website that, again and again, twists truth and uses pieces of information that fail to tell the full picture.

      Take Charlottesville, the latest object of Terry Reilly’s twisted approach to truth:

      1. Charlottesville Democrats had their “firehouse primary” (private nominating election) on Saturday. Turnout increased by 50% over the last primary in 2009, which in turn had been much higher than its old nominating convention procedures. Of the nearly 2,600 ballots cast, eight were uncounted as invalid. In other word, 99.7% of ballots were counted as valid — very high, of course, but actually San Leandro was even higher in 2010.

      2. It is true that an African American candidate lost. She was fifth in the first round and was a three-candidate “slate” that overall lost to a competing slate. Party politics and winner-take-all rules, not disenfranchisement due to IRV.

  2. Excellent article! I just have two minor comments:

    On “One of the biggest criticisms of ranked choice voting is that final election results were not available until weeks after election night.” This is only due to the closeness of the election, and not due to RCV itself. It also took weeks to determine the winner of the Attorney General’s election, and that was simple plurality. The result of any close election will only be known after all the absentee and provisional votes have been tabulated, no matter what electoral system is used.

    On “voters are only allowed to mark their top 3-choices. Apparently, this is a physical problem with having paper ballots”.

    No, this is a physical problem with the equipment that Alameda County uses. Cambridge, Massachusetts, uses a related ranked system, using paper ballots, but their equipment can handle up to 30 rankings. Unfortunately, that equipment has never been certified for use in California.

    • Thanks Steve! I just realized it was you, and not Rob, who had made the point about the voting machines. So let me ask you, is there movement to get those machines certified in California? Should we contacting Debra Bowen and asking her to take a look at how to get machines that allow to rank all candidates certified?

      • I’m going to describe things the way they are, not necessarily the way they should be.

        It’s up to each vendor to decide if they’re interested in the California market. If they are, then they (and only they can) apply to have their equipment certified for use in California.

        Vendors, in turn, respond to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from counties when counties are looking for new equipment. (A city could issue its own RFP, but most cities contract with their containing county to run their elections for them. There are exceptions, mainly in Los Angeles County, where a private company called Martin and Chapman runs many city elections. I think Long Beach runs their own elections; I don’t know what equipment they use.)

        So the pull for better equipment has to come from the counties. Clearly, one would want the RFP for new equipment to specify more rankings than just three. In fact, the San Francisco Voting Systems Task Force has recommended that San Francisco’s “next generation” voting system has “[making] the ability to rank more than three choices a strong preference for any future voting system to be acquired by San Francisco with a preference for a system that will allow the voter to rank all candidates in a race” as one of its recommendations. (San Francisco’s contract with Sequoia, which was purchased by Dominion, ends in 2013. I have heard rumors that Dominion is working on equipment that allows eleven rankings; not as good as Cambridge’s thirty but much better than three.)

        I don’t know when Alameda County’s contract with Sequoia expires, but that would be the timeframe for considering new equipment. The three client cities that use IRV (San Leandro, Oakland, Berkeley) should ask Alameda County to put a requirement for more rankings into their next RFP.

        I suppose folks could contact the Secretary of State’s office individually, but I suspect that the response will be along the lines of “the counties have to ask for it.” On the other hand, she does have IRV guidelines posted at http://www.sos.ca.gov/voting-systems/oversight/directives.htm and they do recommend allowing as many rankings as there are candidates.

  3. Rob Richie is at it again, defending a flawed product.
    True RCV makes voters rank all candidates(if 17 run you rank 1-17) if a ballot is not marked correctly it must be re submitted by the voter.
    In San Leandro 1800 of Starosicaks ballots did not make it past the first round. So 1800 folks had no say in the outcome.
    What we used and what is used in the US is not a true RCV system. Be truthful Mr Richie your system has created a lot of issues in real life.
    Either support a true RCV system or be truthful in the problems with what we are experimenting with here.
    We should either use the Australian RCV system or scrap it

    • Mike — I’m glad you’re not disputing that your original post on Charlottesville was in fact a phony argument — as are so many of Terry Reilly’s arguments.

      I’m also glad you would support RCV if forcing voters to rank every candidate. I’d also support that system as better than plurality voting.

      But …I would not support mandatory rankings as better than giving voters the option to abstain from ranking. Unlike Australia, we don’t have mandatory voting. If we don’t force people to vote, why should we force them to rank everyone?

      The fact is that some backers of Starosicak had no preference between Santos and Cassidy. Why force them to indicate one?

      See some useful stats on the San Leandro election are here:
      http://www.fairvote.org/san-leandro-facts

    • Mike (Santos),

      In the first round of RCV in the 2010 San Leandro mayoral race, there were 3 exhausted ballots (see http://www.acgov.org/rov/rcv/results/rcvresults_3192.htm). It is only in the fifth round that there were 1760 exhausted ballots because voters decided either to list no second or third choice candidates or listed candidates who had already dropped out of a previous runoff round.

      It seems we all agree that a better system would be to allow ranking of all candidates, though that would not preclude exhausted ballots.

  4. Mike, if voters are not willing to mark a 2nd or 3rd choice, that’s the choice they make. It’s the same choice as not voting in a runoff. If you look at the runoff between Starosciak and Mahoney in 2004, barely anyone voted. Of course, having candidates tell their supporters to NOT mark a 2nd and 3rd choice does not help the democratic process under RCV.

    But let me point out an actual scenario in which RCV can be harmful to a neophyte candidate (which often may be candidates from minority groups): it doesn’t give you a second chance at campaigning. Take the example of the 2008 District 2 City Council race. The candidates were Charlie Gilcrest, a well known political operative in town, Linda Perry, a School Board member, former City Council member, etc., and Ursula Reed, an African American woman new to politics. Perry was the “favored” candidate if for no other reason that she had great name recognition. She easily came out first in June. Reed campaigned a lot before the June race, but she didn’t do it particularly effectively. Again, she was new to the campaign process and wasn’t too sure what she was doing. She came out second, however, and made it to the runoff. This was an unexpected success and allowed her the opportunity to fix the mistakes she had previously made and wage a much better and more effective campaign. She went on to easily win the race. Now, had RCV been in place in 2008, I am sure she would not have won.

    So basically, RCV will work best for candidates who are able to wage ONE strong campaign from the let go. It will hurt candidates who need to “learn” within the campaign process itself. But there is also something to be said for candidates getting experience working on campaigns /before/ they decide to run for office.

    • This is a very fair point. Every voting system has tradeoffs. Both runoffs and RCV are likely to avoid someone winning due to a split vote in the majority. Within that choice between runoffs and RCV, there are pro’s and con’s. I think the case for RCV is stronger at the end of the day (due to voter turnout disparities between rounds of runoffs and the impact of money in politics, for example), but I also would take runoffs over plurality voting.

  5. Just a matter of time on the rankings — there are paper designs in federal testing that would make it easy to have 10 or so. But even RCV with three rankings is a very good system in my eyes.

    • The problem that I have with the 3-ranking system, is that it disenfranchises the unaware. As an aware voter under RCV, I’ll vote for my preferred candidates as 1st-2nd choice, but I’ll reserve my 3rd choice for the “least of two evils”, that is to say, the one of the two candidates left standing at the last round that I find least objectionable. But in order to do so, I need to have a clue as to who those two candidates are. Again, in an election like the last one in San Leandro that’s not too big a deal, there were only 3 candidates that could win. But in elections like the ones in Oakland and San Francisco, I don’t think that’s the case and I do find it troubling.

      • This gets into voter education. The voter education done by the Registrar of Voters has of necessity to steer clear from political implications. They can’t say “reserve your last choice for the front runner you find least objectionable”. But community groups that do voter education can discuss the political implications of “restricted” IRV (as the Ninth Circuit called it in upholding San Francisco’s — and by implication, San Leandro’s, Oakland’s, and Berkeley’s — system) and the need to consider being strategic with that third choice. And candidates can point that out as they ask to be the second or third choice of voters who prefer someone who is not likely to win. The media has a role to play here, too, should they decide to accept it.

  6. I agree that more rankings is better. But I’d still take three- ranking RCV over alternatives — it gives you three chances to cast an effective vote rather than one, unlike plurality (and one chance is all you get in the first round of a two-round runoff, easily leading to “spoiler”-type votes in the big field you’re talking about).

    • Well RCV is an alternative to regular run-off elections. I completely agree that plurality elections are a travesty, the tyranny of the minority in the worst sense and very prone to manipulation. Incumbents are almost guaranteed to win plurality elections just on the inertia vote alone (those who don’t really care and will vote for the incumbent no matter what). And if there is no incumbent, the candidate that can garner all votes from one particular minority group can steal the election. For example, San Leandro is about 2/3 democratic and a little under 1/3 Republican. If you have multiple democratic/progressive candidates and one Republican/conservative candidate (and no incumbents), that one Republican could easily win. And that Republican can subvert the election by bringing in additional seemingly progressive candidates to split the vote.

      This is what Starosciak didn’t get when she was advocating for plurality elections. She thought all women would vote for her and that would give her the win – but all Santos would have had to do is have a strong female supporter run as well, and that would have split Starosciak’s vote.

  7. Marga, excellent recap of recent San Leandro elections. Dispassionate and bi-partisan and fair. Rare in my estimation for politics.

    I have wondered what happened to your blog and came back to it today to see an explosion of comments. I was initially impressed with the depth of knowledge and understand by the players. San Leandro bright and attentive? What is going on here?

    The Players
    You and your husband, both active Democratic party, supporters of Stephen Cassidy and self proclaimed saviors of San Leandro. Good for you. It’s your blog and your husband. Good for both of you.

    Mike Santos, son of the former mayor and committed attack dog in support of Santos honor. Also honest and transparent.

    Steve Chessin. Longtime Democratic Party stalwart, activist, lobbyist, progressive and hack. Not exactly non-partisan and not disclosed.

    Rob Richie. Founder of Fair Vote, advocate of Instant Run Off. Democratic Party stalwart and entrenched member of the Washington DC beltway. Also not exactly non-partisan and not disclosed.

    Nobody else on the blog, except me.

    My expectations are for the transparency and not the paid shills for your agenda. AT the least you should disclose that the two major commenters are paid for what they advocate. Their business interests are the topic here, not the needed changes to RCV. Shame on you.

    • Mr. Clarke: My position as President of Californians for Electoral Reform is as a volunteer. My position as member of the California Democratic Party is as a volunteer. I am not paid for any activity for or with either of those organizations. (In fact, in addition to my time, I donate money to both organizations.)

      I am a citizen lobbyist for the causes in which I believe. That is also volunteer work.

      My postings have been related to my position with CfER (as the link attached to my name would show), not to my position with the Democratic Party.

      As for hack, well, I’d be insulted if I had any respect for your opinion.

    • Thomas – I’m no “Democratic Party stalwart.” Sure, I’m director of FairVote, a nonpartisan organization and don’t hide that. We have a good history of working with people from across the spectrum who share our goal of respect for every vote and every voice

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