An interesting discussion is underway about the candidate dubbed the transactional politician during the “bribery investigation” current City Council Member (Ward One) Dai Thao (DFL). The speculation is Thao will suggest to his voters that they select Harris as their 2nd Choice, and the implied idea is Harris voters would choose Thao as their 2nd Choice. Now, based on Ranked Voting only the candidate who is dropped from the ballot will have their voters 2nd Choices revealed. This is an opportunistic transaction for Thao, who will still be a seated Council Member after the election.
This type of maneuver could bring Thao into a more favorable position on the council and solidify a 4-3 majority, but one with the mayor in the minority’s corner.
This is not outside the realm of possibilities, we will remind our dedicated readers the Harris and Thao colluded during the St Paul DFL City Endorsing Convention on the rules and tried to facilitate a “No Endorsement” strategy. They lost the rules fight but there was not an endorsement because they ran out the clock so in the end, they won.
Now this may be perceived as a desperate move, and we know Thao has reached out to the Elizabeth Dickinson campaign (GR), but she declined to meet with him, so the plausibility of some sort of deal being struck is not as farfetched as it may seem. Call it Shenanigan’s, but this was once an Irish town.
As we try to access the value of Thao 2nd Choices votes we are trying to determine two factors, the overall size of the voting universe and the size of the votes this could impact. The largest block of Hmong voters in St Paul reside in Senate District 67. In 2012, Fong Hawj (DFL) secured 2142 votes against Robert Humphrey’s (DFL) 1897 and Tom Dimond’s (DFL) 806. Most, believe the greatest majority of Hawj’s support were Hmong votes. Looking at Thao’s own support in his Special Election victory in 2013, he received 1347 votes.
Granted, there are more Hmong voters in St Paul than these 3489 because not all Hmong voters live in these two areas of St Paul and younger Hmong have come of age in the last 5 years and it is not only Hmong voters who will support Thao. But if we view the available size of the population and factor in population increase, and Thao’s progressive stance, his effective voting bloc may be around 5-7000 votes.
This could be a key voting bloc for Harris especially is the overall turnout is low. If the universe is as we expect between 42-45,000 then Thao may be able to influence as many as 9.5-15.5% of the electorate. If the race is tight between Harris and former City Council Member (Ward One) Melvin Carter III (DFL) this could play a significant role.
Again, the question is what is needed and will it be enough. Voters make their decisions for many reasons at the ballot box and the call for support from one politician to another may not be the preeminent factor.
It just proves that there are more issues contained in a Ranked Voting system then its supporters would like people to know.