Sacramento election vote-count update and Wednesday-morning quarterbacking

Let’s jump into it:

Money apparently doesn’t matter in East Sacramento: District 3 City Council candidate Cyril Shah out-fundraised his six opponents—combined. Times four. And possibly a little bit more. 

But the almighty dollar doesn’t guarantee much in D3.

Jeff Harris—who raised less than $10,000 in recent months but earned the Bee and SN&R’s endorsements—is leading the way to become one of the D3 candidates in a November runoff. He pulled in 1,445 votes as of midnight on election day, but it will be a week or two before the election results are final.

Sacramento County elections spokeswoman Alice Jarboe says that there are an estimated 77,000 ballots remaining. She cautioned that these still need to validated and verified, and the next count update will be this Friday afternoon.

What does that mean for the D3 race? Well, I estimate that there remain an additional 2,000 to 3,500 ballots left for this race. Anything can happen.

Trailing Harris is Ellen Cochrane, a neighborhood-association leader and vocal anti-McKinley Village activist. She raised twice as much as Harris in recent months and has 1,293 votes.

Shah is behind Cochrane by nine votes. What happened with Shah and all his coffers?

The financial adviser should’ve easily waltzed into a November runoff, but I think he made two critical mistakes. First, out of the gates he told local media that he wasn’t going to take a stance on the McKinley Village project. He explained to SN&R’s Cosmo Garvin that it didn’t really matter what he thought, that he didn’t have to say what he thinks, since council was going to decide the issue before November, anyway.

Voters don’t want to hear that. What he thinks mattered a helluva lot. Shah figured this out and eventually took a stance. I paraphrase: He’s opposed to the project unless the developer pays for vehicular access at Alhambra. A very reasonable stance, and essentially the same position as sitting Councilman Steve Cohn.

But it was too late.

Shah took a similar position on the arena, saying that he’s for the new Kings home—but only if it doesn’t impact the general fun. 

Well, of course the arena is going to impact the general fun—despite what K.J. and his attack dogs say. To that end, Shah’s position was unclear.

Meanwhile, Cochrane—like Cohn 20 years ago—was at the forefront of the McKinley Village opposition. She made a name for herself and parlayed McVillage into some campaign dollars, too. Now she’s in the thick of a tight race.

Voters hate your big-ass pension: Over in the Pocket-Greenhaven-Valley Hi neighborhoods, candidate Rick Jennings just might win the District 7 council member seat without a runoff.

I actually predicted this outcome, and here’s why: 

1) Jennings nailed the Bee endorsement, likely because of the Hive editorial board’s proclivity for hating on kingly pensions. 

2) Which brings us to candidate Julius Cherry’s pension: as of a few years ago it was the highest in the city of Sacramento, at north of $170,000 a year. 

3) A non-Jennings-associated-but-obviously-pro-Jennings-and-K.J.-orchestrated mailer blasting Cherry for his pension clearly had a huge impact.

Cherry and Jennings were more or less neck-in-neck in fundraising. Both had significant community name ID and legitimate endorsements. But Jennings blew Cherry away, 51% to 40% as of midnight on election day.

Now, it’s just a matter of whether Jennings can stay above the 50 percent majority threshold and avoid a runoff.

Jennings’s is intelligent. He’s of course made—and admitted to—some boneheaded moves in the past, such as the CASA pension “scheme” while on the school board. And privatizing Sac High still isn’t’ popular with a ton of voters. (Although neither of these issues have impacted Jay Schenirer in two election cycles.)

My take is that Jennings has more respect in the community because he’s a work horse, and loyal. For instance, I was on the panel at the League of Women Voters a few months back. It was 8:30 a.m.—and Jennings was already there, watching the District 3 debate, taking notes. He was the only other candidate in the audience.

DA race fail: I expected more from the Maggy Krell campaign. Despite all that campaign money and those high-octane endorsements (the governor and the AG), Schubert beat Krell by nearly double the votes: 64,285 to 35,518. There won’t be a November runoff. It was a blowout.

The Sacramento attorney general race was easily the most frustrating of this cycle. Krell’s advisers—who, again, had all that money and endorsement huzzahs to work with—really dropped the ball. 

I’m convinced that voters were ready for a dialogue about justice and reform. They wanted to hear about making streets safer by rehabilitating and treating criminals and not just locking them up. Voters are sick of the cycle of recidivism and some of DA Jan Scully’s head-scratching public-safety priorities. Krell was poised to lead this discussion with voters.

Instead, her camp hung its hat on human trafficking—a hot-topic issue, sure, but one that doesn’t inspire voters. That miscue, and also the ill-advised mudslinging at the Schubert camp over DA pay, didn’t stick. She obviously wasn’t as qualified as Schubert, but she also didn’t define herself as a viable—no, needed—alternative.

A disappointing missed opportunity.

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