Thursday, September 18, 2008

Will Turnout Expectations Turnout?

For the first time in 16 years, a sitting state senator has lost a re-election bid in Massachusetts. What makes the defeat all the more intriguing is that she is black.
Wilkerson refused to concede defeat Tuesday night after results showed challenger Sonia Chang-Diaz with a 1 percent, or 228-vote, victory. Wilkerson has not decided if she will ask for a recount.
Part of the reason Wilkerson lost is that there was low turnout among black voters.
She had touted her record on gay rights and fighting predatory lending in her rematch with Chang-Diaz, who narrowly lost their first race in 2006.
This is interesting, as a big part of the premise for Barack's presidential bid is that he can get higher turnout amongst the young and minorities than John Kerry did four years ago, and thus overcome the reality that white folks go for the GOP in national elections. Wilkerson even had the support of the state's black Governor, Deval Patrick.
Challenger Sonia Chang-Diaz took down incumbent state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson in their second close bout, despite a last-minute telephone blitz by Hub political heavyweights Mayor Thomas Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick, who rallied to support the six-term state senator.
The Boston race may show no trend that can be applied to the Obama/McCain contest, especially since Wilkerson was an irresponsible public servant who deserved to lose.
Wilkerson has been dogged by controversy for much of her 14-year Senate career, but this time, her financial troubles appeared to be too much for voters to ignore.
She's deserved to lose for years, though. Why now? This time, her base failed to deliver in a year that should see black voters highly energized, even though this was an otherwise unexciting primary day in Massachusetts.
In addition to previously being convicted of tax evasion and narrowly avoiding foreclosure, Wilkerson last month agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and forgo about $30,000 in debts she said her political committee owed her after acknowledging she failed to keep proper campaign records from 2000 to 2004.

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