by Max Brantley
FINAL RESULTS WITH ALL BOXES REPORTING: Daugherty led Swaim 808 to 806. Mike Nellums, a Pulaski School principal, had 185 votes and Drew Pritt, a student, had 8.
PS -- This figure includes paper absentees, which were not initially reflected on the Election Comission's website. I called that omission to their attention and it was corrected after the election coordinator, Susan Inman, and I spoke. (Swaim led on paper ballots 33-31.)
Swaim trounced Daugherty in the handful of majority white precincts in the zone. Daugherty won heavily in majority black precincts, but it appears white voter turnout might have been heavier.
The results are promising for Swaim and the turnout seems lower than I expected, well below 2,000 votes for a hotly contested race. But these results may not foretell the runoff. In 2006, in a race for a Southwest Little Rock board seat that proved critical, Dianne Curry won a seat on the School Board with a bigger runoff turnout than occurred in the first election. She'd led Tom Brock 362-347 in the first election, but pounded him 903-542 in the runoff. Daugherty will enjoy some of the same support Curry enjoyed (Classroom Teachers Association and Acorn), but he'll be damaged to some degree if he continues to avoid most media interviews and public appearances.
Daugherty is part of a four-member ruling bloc on the board. His opponents all promised, in varying degrees, to differ from that majority on various issues, so his defeat would change the direction of the board. Daugherty, who is black, had an edge in a district that is majority black, if you presume typical racially polarized voting patterns. But it's never been clear what voter registration numbers look like in the Zone, versus population. He was endorsed by dozens of pastors, the teachers union and Acorn. Swaim, who is white, received most of her campaign money (she's the leader in money reports ) from big names in the Little Rock business community. She's been repeatedly and vigorously endorsed by the Democrat-Gazette, often a hindrance, not a help, in LR School Board races. Nellums, who is black, also siphoned off some of Daugherty's voter base.
It's never a positive sign for an incumbent when forced into a runoff. A majority of votes went against Daugherty, after all. But the Nellums vote will be interesting to follow -- whether it will return to runoff polls and whether it will swing heavily for one candidate or another. It'll be interesting if he expresses a preference.
Other races on the ballot in Pulaski County can be checked at the Election Commission website. But they indicate long-term incumbent Marty Moore beaten in NLR. That's the race with a controversy over absentee ballots gathered by her opponent, Ron Treat. And, this is nice, all voters gave a symbolic vote FOR school tax millages.
North Little Rock
Incumbent Marty Moore
Dr. James Bolden III
I'd welcome reports on the fellow in Fort Smith who's pushing for Bible classes and the big battle in Fayetteville in which developers are backing a candidate who favors moving the high school to the edge of town. UPDATE: The developers' choice was beaten handily in Fayetteville.