Republicans gained a three-fifths supermajority in the Mississippi House on Wednesday when members unseated a longtime Democratic lawmaker who had won a tied election by drawing straws. The 67-49 vote was mostly along party lines to unseat Rep. Bo Eaton of Taylorsville and replace him with Republican challenger Mark Tullos of Raleigh. Tullos, an attorney, watched the vote from the public gallery of the House. Eaton, a farmer, was on the House floor and participated in the 3½ hour debate because he had been sworn in to begin his sixth term when the legislative session started two weeks ago.
Sometimes American politics is about ideas, powered by Jeffersons and Adamses and Reagans. Sometimes it is about strategy, with races determined by the chess-match machinations of Axelrods and Roves. But every once in a while, the fate of governments is determined by a considerably less eminent character, one usually found lurking in back-alley craps games and on the Vegas strip: Lady Luck. In Mississippi on Friday, luck smiled on a Democratic state representative, Blaine Eaton II, who had been forced, by state law, to draw straws for his seat after his race for re-election ended in a tie. On Friday afternoon, in a short, strange ceremony here presided over by Gov. Phil Bryant and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Mr. Eaton and his Republican challenger, Mark Tullos, each removed a silver box from a bag. Mr. Eaton opened his box to reveal a long green straw. And with that, a mathematically improbable tie for the House District 79 seat — each candidate had received exactly 4,589 votes — had been broken, though not by the voters.
The voters couldn’t decide the race, so now it will be left up to chance. After a recount of all ballots today, the race for an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner race in Columbia Heights has ended in a rare tie, sending the two candidates to a casting of lots that by law has to occur at noon of a day designated by the D.C. Board of Elections. The race between incumbent Dyana Forester and challenger David Gilliland for the 1B06 seat was separated by a single vote after the Nov. 4 election results were certified last week, triggering a recount of the 582 ballots cast. But after that recount, which took place today, the two emerged tied, 204 to 204. (The remaining votes were for write-in candidates, and over- and under-votes.) One board official said it could be the first-ever tie for an ANC race in the city’s history, though that could not be immediately confirmed.
The town of Webster, Texas, is rolling the dice on its newest city council member. Literally. After Diana Newland and Edward Lapeyre each won 111 votes in a runoff election Saturday and a recount confirmed the result yesterday, Texas election code forced the two to “cast lots.” A nearby pair of dice settled the matter: Newland rolled a five, while Lapeyre came up short with a four. “It seemed odd, but after discussing it [with Lapeyre], we were just ready to get it over with,” Newland said, adding that her opponent was gracious about his misfortune. “I could not have gone out and campaigned a third time, and we had already gotten people to come out twice, bless their hearts.”
The early years of Diamond Bar cityhood were contentious as those favoring strict limitation of development clashed with those favoring granting city council with more flexibility in planning land use. In 1992 and again in 1993, the City Council revised and adopted two General Plans presented by citizen advisory committees. Both rescinded by referendum, Diamond Bar’s early distinction included holding the state record for being incorporated without an accepted General Plan.
“The City of Diamond Bar is almost 6 years old now…That doesn’t mean the City Council has to Act that way” was the headline on a Diamond Bar Caucus 1995 campaign flyer endorsing Bob Huff and Carol Herrera. With conflicting visions of how the city should mature, the 1995 election cycle brought out 11 candidates vying for two city council seats, including one held by Phyllis Papen, who would not be re-elected.
Planning Commissioner Bob Huff surpassed the other candidates at the polls. The vote spread for the second seat between Carol Herrera and Don Schad was close, fluctuated, and involved litigation that did not end until May of the following year. Herrera remembers on election night, she was down by six votes. The absentee ballots added in, she was ahead by 12. Schad requested a recount. Herrera could have chosen a hand recount, but she was concerned with the additional cost and believed the recount by machine would provide equitable results.