First: Congratulations to Jerry Wright. As a ward 3 resident, I supported his opponent. Jerry won. We shall hope for him to be a successful councilperson and support him where we are able. Chad Lewis knocked a lot of doors and probably couldn't overcome Jerry's name recognition.
Second: There was some serious boasting from people about how Hanks was going to take it all in the general election. In fact, he didn't get 40 percent of the vote...
Here's the math on the mayor's race:
KOOIKER: 6502 (47.67 percent)
HANKS: 5051 (37.03 percent)
WEIFENBACH: 1792 (13.14 percent)
WERNIKE: 295 (2.16 percent)
Kooiker fell short of the 50 percent plus one vote (he needed just 319 votes more) necessary to win the contest outright. That's less than 20 percent of Weifenbach's votes.
According to a flyer in Saturday's Rapid City Journal, Hanks says people who are behind in the polls tend to do desperate things. We shall see.
A word about Ron Weifenbach and Peter Wernicke: Congratulations to both. It takes no small measure of brass to put yourself out there for voters and political opponents to pick you apart. I don't know Mr. Wernicke. But he chose to run because he thought he could bring something to the dialog, and he did. I do know Ron Weifenbach and he has no small measure of respect from me and his Ward 1 constituents. he ran an issues-based campaign that focused on his management style. Neither of these gentlemen have anything to hang their head about. They participated in the system and should be congratulated, as should all the candidates in all the races.
That said, Mr. Kooiker holds a significant lead over incumbent Alan Hanks -- much wider than his runoff in 2007. If he is to succeed in this run-off, he must motivate Weifenbach's and Wernicke's voters (who have already expressed a desire for change) that not only should they support him, but they must go to the polls for the runoff.
A lot of voters expect Mr. Hanks to "go negative." We shall see. It worked for him in the previous Kooiker run-off when his buddy and supporter Stan Adelstein's PAC sent the now infamous "wingnut" brochure. I doubt Adelstein and Hanks will repeat that tactic in this runoff. But, I didn't see it coming last time. Voters I talk to expect negative napalm from the Hanks camp. We shall see.
The Hanks camp was crying foul over Kooiker's last mailer, which I'll call the "bug" mailer. They claim Kooiker's opening of discussions of money shifting, fraud at the landfill, cronyism, etc. were negative. Kooiker claims it was a creative method of bringing attention to Hanks' record while in office. It's politics.
Hanks' political adviser is known for his "do anything to win" approach to political gain. So I expect negativity from Hanks. And, I expect Kooiker to respond. And, I expect the Rapid City Journal to not allow Deb Hadcock to run another last-minute vitriolic diatribe against Kooiker, giving Kooiker no time or opportunity to respond. She did the same thing during Kooiker's ridiculous censure "hearing."
This is a different race. Hanks is far behind. Like Kooiker, he must get the vote out. He must spend time in Kooiker's home ward 2 and Weifenbach's ward 1. At that, short of another vicious flyer containing half truths, (like before) I see a struggle ahead for Mr. Hanks.
The only way I see Kooiker losing is if he is unable to motivate voters to vote. If his supporters look at that strong lead and choose to not vote, Hanks could win. Hanks benefits from Weifenbach's voters staying home, but not much, and probably not enough.
Things look grim for Mr. Hanks right now. Consequently, I'm bracing for a bumpy road ahead.