Alone among his political peers, Green Party candidate Jim Ivey sang the praises of ranked-choice voting as he walked door to door in Ward 2, trying to win first- and second-place votes in an attempt to unseat long-standing St. Paul City Council member Dave Thune. Now, the same process Ivey championed effectively will leave him at the mercy of supporters of Cynthia Schanno and Sharon Anderson, the two most conservative candidates in his five-way race.
As the two weakest vote-getters in the Ward 2 election, the last-place finishers will be dropped from tallies next week during rounds of “elimination”-style vote-counting. Voters who selected the last-place candidates still get to be heard, as their second-choice picks are released into the next round of vote-counting. That leaves Ivey, who came in second of five candidates, dependent on those second-choice votes to survive elimination when counting resumes next Monday. Thune holds a solid but not insurmountable lead in first place with 39 percent of the vote, while Ivey holds 27 percent and fellow candidate Bill Hosko holds 26 percent. Only two will proceed to the following elimination round.
“About a year ago, we planned it out almost exactly this way,” Ivey said on Wednesday, saying he actively courted second-place votes. “I wanted to be closer to Dave (in votes) and farther away from Bill, but…we’ve got a shot.”
Still, the irony doesn’t escape Chuck Repke, former chair of the “No Bad Ballots” campaign, which fought unsuccessfully to keep ranked-choice voting from becoming law in St. Paul in 2009. He called the Green Party its own worst enemy for embracing the new voting system and said Ivey would have stood a better chance running in a primary election and then advancing to a general election against Thune in a two-way race. “The 461 people who voted for those two last-place finishers hold the fate of the Green Party,” Repke said.