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Archive for Saturday, April 6, 1991

VOTE SWINGS PROVE COSTLY FOR PENNY

April 6, 1991

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The top vote-getter in this week's city election said Friday he couldn't take credit for winning several precincts away from incumbent David Penny in Tuesday's election, because Penny essentially gave up the precincts.

"It seems like there were a lot of things that happened with Dave's campaign at the end that had a net negative effect," commissioner-elect Bob Schulte said.

That translated into a net gain of five precincts for Schulte's campaign, along with the absentee vote that had been part of Penny's primary election spoils.

Schulte and commissioner-elect John Nalbandian tied Tuesday for another precinct won in the primary by Penny, and incumbent Bob Schumm narrowly received the nod in another that Penny won in the primary. Penny retained victories in five of the 12 precincts he won in the primary election.

"SOME OF the things that Dave did, or said, and the letters that had gone out from the churches had more of an effect on changing people's minds," Schulte said. "It was more of pulling votes away by somebody else than winning them."

The letters that Schulte spoke of were mailings sent to members of local churches and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce that endorsed Penny and Paul Horvath. They became controversial after members of one church and the chamber expressed concern that the letters appeared to signify church or chamber support of the candidates.

Penny, however, said the letters had little effect because he "really hadn't been too closely associated with them." He pinned his loss on issues.

"I think the main thing was the golf situation," Penny said. "I think also the downtown issues, whether we're going to continue to do the downtown, hurt me. I guess people were in favor of pouring money into downtown."

Penny has long been critical of the city's stance toward downtown and voted against a proposed municipal golf course.

PENNY SAID his cooperative campaign efforts with Horvath and some school board candidates also may have hurt him.

Upon finishing second in the Feb. 26 primary, Penny began drawing parallels to the 1989 commission campaign. That year, he finished first in the primary and subsequently dropped to third place in the general election. He said his efforts at "pulling along another candidate" were partially to blame for his 1989 drop in position.

"I guess there wasn't a large amount of difference (between this election and 1989), because I worked with (Mayor Shirley) Martin-Smith's people (in 1989)," he said.

Both times, he said, the cooperative campaigning also was aimed at cutting costs.

OF THE 35 precincts in the city, Schulte won 15, Nalbandian 11, Schumm two and Penny five in Tuesday's balloting. Nalbandian tied with Schulte and Schumm in two other precincts.

Schumm also won two precincts in the primary, but not the same ones he won in the general.

"You don't have to win in precincts to win," Schumm said. "I think I figured up once that if you take fourth in every precinct, you win. You just need strong support across the board."

Thinking that his support in central neighborhoods and downtown would remain strong, Schumm said he concentrated his late campaign efforts in business districts other than downtown and in neighborhoods west of Iowa.

"The idea was just to keep that general support level there and improve where possible in the big precincts," he said.

NALBANDIAN said his strategy was to hang onto third place and fight to move up to second to get a four-year term.

His analysis of primary results showed that he and Schumm tended to appeal to the same voters and that Schulte would have to gain votes from Penny, Nalbandian said, so he went after votes that belonged to candidates that lost in the primary.

"I was hoping to pick up the number that would allow us to catch Penny," he said. He attributed Schumm's success over Penny to Schumm's ability to pull votes from the losers in the primary and to gain new votes.

Nalbandian won 11 precincts in Tuesday's election, up from six in the primary.

ALTHOUGH THE precinct-by-precinct totals tell an interesting story, the increases in the percentage of the total vote each candidate received in the race tell another tale.

Of the six candidates, Paul Horvath, who finished sixth, netted the largest percentage increase in total vote between the primary and general elections with an increase of more than 40 percent. He was followed by fourth-place finisher Toni Dudley, with an increase of more than 37 percent; Nalbandian, with an increase of 36 percent; Schumm, with an increase of almost 28 percent; Schulte, with an increase of almost 25 percent; and Penny, with an increase of less than 1 percent.

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