by Max Brantley
Micheal Daugherty apparently has been re-elected to the Little Rock School Board in a close race with Anna Swaim.
UPDATE: The complete results (see the jump for precinct totals):
Swaim -- 1,248 46.3 percent
Daugherty -- 1,446 53.7 percent
When we called the race earlier, the only official results available for the runoff were for early and absentee voting, which Daugherty carried 113-107. But workers for both candidates -- gathering votes by checking posted totals at individual precincts -- were coming up with similar tallies giving Daugherty the victory. This turnout was an increase of more than 50 percent over the first election, which Daugherty led 808-806. Two other candidates picked up 193 more votes in the first election. (The Pulaski County Election Commission had problems with its Internet provider, which hampered reporting of vote totals Tuesday night.)
I drove around to a few polls myself to gather some early votes. I checked the biggest individual poll for Daugherty and Swaim in the first election and a large box with a split vote. Here's what I found, in a report compiled earlier in the evening:
At Greater Christ Temple at 1200 Lewis, which Daugherty carried 124-15 in the first election, the vote was 198-29 Tuesday night. Campaign workers there said turnout was higher in all precincts, particularly those where Swaim ran well in the earlier election.
At Bess Chisum YWCA, which Daugherty carried 164-84 three weeks ago, the vote Tuesday was 235-115. Daugherty workers I met there told me that the turnout was huge in Swaim's precincts and they were pessimistic. But,. as it happened, Daugherty actually did marginally better in Swaim territory than in the first election.
At Faith Lutheran, 7525 W. Markham, which Swaim carried 214-26 in the first election, she won tonight 311-43. By the time I got there, Daugherty workers' mood had improved, based on reports relayed by phone.
For what it's worth, those three boxes split cumulatively in Daugherty's favor 314-313 the first election and 476-455 tonight.
If it winds up closer than expected, be advised that there were at least a few provisional ballots uncounted.
A Daugherty win continues the hold of the four-member black board majority on affairs of the majority black district. His Zone 2 is about two-thirds black. A Swaim win would have shifted the seven-member board back to majority white, though Swaim indicated some agreement with positions the black board majority has taken in the last year and she promised not to be beholden to the white business leaders who contributed tens of thousands of dollars to her campaign.
Should these results hold, the future will be, well, interesting. I can hope the majority will govern inclusively and transparently and graciously, with congratulations for a majority hard-won. Or it can take retribution and contine a disorderly process that's often been conducted without transparency. I suspect there'll be some sentiment in the direction of retribution, particularly given the vicious and insulting editorial position adopted by the Democrat-Gazette. It suggested only base motives were behind support for Daugherty, not an interest in kids. If I heard it once, I heard it a dozen times Tuesday night: The newspaper's editorial position was vital in energizing Daugherty's base. There's some proof in the numbers. Swaim, a good candidate with a good organization, increased her turnout dramatically. But Daugherty did even better. It is only the latest example of the D-G's kiss of death in LR School Board matters. Voters have come to understand that the publisher, who has always thought little of the public schools, had designs on using the LR schools to experiment with pet education theories. His editorial writers beat up board members and constituents who pushed back.
Zone 2 covers a swath of Central Little Rock, mostly south of Interstate 630. A strip of the zone north of I-630 provides most of the white votes in the majority black zone.
Precinct results, with Swaim in first column, Daugherty in second (these include early votes, so differ from polling place numbers):
86 -- Bess Chisum YWCA 141 254
87 -- Faith UMC 154 10
95 -- Grace Presbyterian 24 5
97 -- Faith Lutheran 354 45
98 -- 2nd Baptist 50 212
99 -- St. Luke UMC 251 56
111 -- Hall High 49 12
112 -- Pul. Hts. Presb. 0 0
115 -- Franklin Ele. 122 257
116 -- Greater Christ Tmp 30 213
117 -- Bullock Temple 5 110
119 -- Greater Archivew 2 11
120 -- LR Adult Ed 59 238
121 -- Geyer Springs UMC 7 23