Tonight's results in the District Two city council primary:
Brenda Konkel (incumbent): 40%
Bridget Maniaci: 27%
Adam Walsh: 24%
Sherman Hackbarth: 7%
Dennis deNure: 29/50% (no I was not one of the five people who voted for deNure!)
So while Konkel was predictably the top vote-earner of the night, the big victory goes to Maniaci, who snuck away with what could turn out to be a huge win over Walsh. I happened to be at Maniaci's headquarters at Supreme Pizza on East Johnson Street, in a stroke of what was more fortuitous laziness than blind luck (it's a block from my house), when her runners brought back the returns from the final ward of the Deuce. The excitement among her small group of supporters was honestly a little contagious.
Prying herself away from a hug, Maniaci ripped out her cell phone shortly after the news came down and punched in a number from memory. "Hello Dad?" she began. "I won!"
Then she paused for a moment, before finishing, "Well, not WON-won, but I have enough votes!"
Twenty votes, in fact, were what propelled Maniaci ahead of Walsh. Indeed, it seems Maniaci had a serious turnout dropoff working in her favor in Ward 37, compared to the last (mayoral) primary. The area around Tenney Park has the highest number of homeowners in District Two, and Walsh could have hoped for a high margin of victory after targeting his campaign specifically at that subset. But by Maniaci's numbers, there were more than 100 fewer voters who showed up in Ward 37 today than during the 2007 race, and they tied there for votes.
The rest of the math is simple. Maniaci snuck away with a four-vote lead in Ward 39, Walsh took back 13 votes in Ward 38, and then Maniaci absolutely ran away with the Langdon Street-centered, heavily-student 40th Ward. With 37 as an exception, her support grew stronger the closer to campus the voters cast ballots from.
In light of these results, a lot now rides on which way the losing candidates and their supporters break, but I'm willing to say the race between Konkel and Maniaci on April 7 will be a close one no matter what. The turnout will undoubtedly be higher, and seeing as Konkel didn't run away with the race but likely DID draw a high percentage of her fervent supporters out during today's election, she may be near her high-water mark.
Maniaci, on the other hand, has proved she's a viable candidate capable of mounting an effective campaign against four opponents. Her shot at unseating one of Madison's most well-known, passion-inflaming alders now rides on her ability to bring her firepower to bear on one target, siphon support from her vanquished opponents and create an upswell of new interest in residents of the Deuce.
And for his part, THIS blind squirrel is going to enjoy the nut he got away with in last night's post: "It seems likely enough Deucers will want to give Konkel a chance to defend her seat through April that she will be one of the top vote-earners Tuesday. In terms of vocal and visible support throughout the community, Walsh and Maniaci have both run hard, effective campaigns, and now need to hope for an upswell of support to boost them into competition against the incumbent. Maniaci may have a slight edge, but Hackbarth is a wildcard with little shot at a berth in the general election and the ability to spoil it for either Walsh or Maniaci."