In a race in which second place and third place votes could very well determine the election thanks to Portland’s adoption of ranked choice voting, mayoral candidate John Eder, calling himself a “long shot” to win the crowded mayoral race, has called for his supporters to get behind Ethan Strimling instead.
Here’s what Eder said in a statement explaining his decision:
I know I am a long shot to win this race, but Ethan is not. In fact, he is our best shot at bringing new leadership and new ideas to City Hall. Yesterday’s solutions just won’t work anymore. Ethan has run a great campaign and has clearly built the broadest coalition of any candidate. That coalition will be essential as we begin to get Portland back on track. It’s important that we elect a mayor who will stand up for working class families. We need someone who will provide new leadership. That’s why I’m asking my supporters to vote for Ethan.
Eder is telling his backers to pick Strimling as their second choice if they do insist on voting for him No. 1. That’s significant, especially if Eder ends up near the bottom of the list after all the first place votes are counted. On Nov. 8, if no single candidate (and there are 15 on the ballot) gets more than 50 percent of the votes and wins with a true majority, the last place finisher’s second place votes get changed into first place tallies and the math is done again. That process repeats until one candidate has more than 50 percent of the votes.
This move by Eder could be significant in how things play out. He can say what he wants about being a long shot, but he does have loyal supporters, and as the first Green Independent to win a seat in the Maine House (2002), he’s not without some influence on voters who might have been on the fence.
In a race of 15 candidates, effectively combining the votes of two candidates behind one could absolutely be enough to determine the winner. That said, absentee ballots have been available at City Hall for almost three weeks. How many of Eder’s supporters have already voted? Of those who haven’t yet, how many will take his recommendation and shift their support to Strimling?
We may have to wait until Nov. 9 to know for sure.
For his part, Strimling issued this statement on the subject:
I greatly appreciate Representative Eder’s support and know that whatever happens on Election Day, John will continue to provide a needed voice for Portland. His ideas in this campaign around creating a TIF for affordable housing and finding a solution to our rising health care costs are laudable. I intend to bring these ideas forward and will call on John’s expertise to fully develop the programs. John is committed to making Portland a better place to live and work, for all of us and he agrees with me that strong leadership at City Hall is what Portland needs right now. We don’t need more studies or think tanks or blue-ribbon committees. We need a mayor who knows what the problems are and who can rally support to get this city moving again.