Joe Smith flipped the script. On Election Day earlier this month, Rep. Tracy Steele had a commanding lead over Smith in their race for North Little Rock mayor, with 48.2 percent of the vote to 41.1 percent for Smith. But Steele couldn’t quite get a majority in the four-candidate race, forcing yesterday’s runoff election, where Smith prevailed with 54.7 percent of the vote, topping Steele by nearly 10 points.
Smith credited a whole lot of door knocking and re-energized supporters after his second-place finish, but it looks to me like turnout was the key. With a presidential election on and Obama on the ticket, more than 21,000 votes were cast in the general election for North Little Rock mayor back on November 6. For the runoff, less than 14,000 folks showed up to vote. Smith himself nabbed 2,000 less votes than he had in the general.
On the other hand, Smith’s supporters do sound energized, though their chanting is rhythmically challenged.
North Little Rock firefighters, who endorsed Steele, struck a conciliatory tone on Facebook last night: “We gave it our best and left it all on the field so to speak. Now we move forward to try and better the service we provide to our citizens with Mayor Smith.”