On the other hand, in a non-partisan race recently, another sort of independent won. Sue Gunn was pretty much an antiestablishment candidate. From what I found when I looked at her returns was a candidate that spanned both traditionally very liberal and very conservative voters.
Just some background reading before we get into the meat of this post:
- Sue Gunn won a countywide Port Commission seat a year ago. She was running in a non-partisan race against a centrist, labor friendly Democrat. I argued that she reconnected the bottom ends of a very specific regional political spectrum.
- Budd Blake won two months ago in Thurston County in a partisan county commission race by running as a non-partisan. Essentially, as I argued, giving traditional Democrats permission to vote non-Democratic.
- But, this doesn't necessarily mean a Bud Blake like independent could win in the heart of liberal Thurston County, the 22nd legislative district.
Sue Gunn won uniting the non-establishment middle in Thurston County, traditional Republican voters who didn't like public subsidies for private business and traditional Democrats who felt the same.
This is pretty different than the type of voter that I see going for Budd Blake. Granted, there were a few traditional Democrats, but they were further in the establishment middle, the ones who were comfortable voting for a business friendly centrist against an environmentalist liberal.
But, now look at Sue Gunn's returns in 2013 when you narrow them down to the 22nd LD. Its a given that Gunn was running in a local only election in 2013, there was very little on the ballot that drove partisan leanings. But, she did eke out an 51 percent victory in the precincts that make up the 22nd LD.
And, if you assume that the current seat-holders in the 22nd are more like Jeff Davis (who lost to Gunn), you could see a roadmap of how a Gunn-like independent could win.
There's probably a lot more I could do with the data, finding out exactly how Gunn won how she did in the 22nd. Did she win over both traditional Republican and Democratic voters? Or did all of her support in the 22nd come from traditional Democrats? I'd assume if it was the latter, it would be harder to pull enough support in a partisan race.