Though official results for the unusual write-in election for a vacant Metropolitan Water Reclamation District seat won’t be declared for a couple of weeks, early numbers suggest at least one contender achieved the threshold number of votes to potentially win his party’s nomination — Cameron Davis.
Or, as some voters may know him — Carn Davis, Carr Davis, Camden Davis, or other varieties in the spelling of his name that were ultimately counted in the preliminary tally of early votes cast in Chicago.
Write-in votes cast in the city on Tuesday and all suburban votes — those cast early and on Election Day — must still be tabulated before the results are officially certified next month. That means other write-in candidates could still beat Davis.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District race flew mostly under the radar in the primary that was dominated by other countywide and statewide races. The MWRD, a regional board that manages storm and sewage water, is among the highest-paying public agencies in the state with an average salary of $100,000, the Better Government Association reported.
Winning an election as a write-in candidate is always a steep hill — the lion’s share of votes go to candidates whose names are on the ballots. But in the case of this primary nomination for the MWRD vacancy, it was the sudden death of Commissioner Timothy Bradford just three days before the candidate filing deadline in December that required the unusual voting procedure.
It was an uphill battle for candidates looking to not only raise their profile but also raise awareness for voters to write in their names. If no candidate met the threshold for write-in votes — at least 8,075 for Democrats — no one would be able to run in the November election. Gov. Bruce Rauner would then appoint someone to fill the vacancy.
“It was too late to do the normal things. We certainly didn’t want to have a special election,” Cook County Clerk David Orr said. “It’s pretty amazing, we think quite a few people actually voted on this.”
So Orr said after consulting with the Cook County state’s attorney office, they agreed on the recommendation to nominate candidates to fill Bradford’s vacancy based on write-in votes.
“This Bradford vacancy is kind of a unique situation. You’ve got a countywide office where the only person who can win is a write-in,” Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, said.
Write-in votes with clear voter intent will count toward the candidates.
“They could have Cam with C-5-M and then Davis could be D-a-v-e-s,” Allen said. “Not if it’s Michelle Obama, Bozo the Clown or some name that’s not even on the list of candidates.”
The list of Democratic write-in candidates who registered in Chicago includes Davis, Simon Gordon, Karen Bond, Vernard Alsberry and Frank Avila, Jr., son of the district’s current chairman of finance.
Davis declined to comment on the preliminary results.
“To be fair to all the candidates, all votes should be counted because all votes count, especially for those who went to the trouble of doing the write-in,” Davis said.
The election has to be certified by April 10 — when the official vote counts will be finalized.
According to the Chicago Board of Elections’ preliminary early voting results, Davis received 9,616 votes — exceeding the number of votes required in Cook County for a write-in Democratic candidate: 8,075. Coming in second to Davis was Gordon, who received 1,652 early votes. Gordon or any of the others could still hit the minimum threshold after Tuesday’s results are counted.
If more than one candidate hits the threshold, the top vote-getter obviously gets the nomination.
For the Green Party, the minimum number of votes is 1,720. Geoffrey Cubbage was the only write-in candidate for the Green Party nomination, but results for that race weren’t yet available.
No Republicans sought the nomination. Whoever secures the Democratic and Green Party nominations must still run in the November general election.
Under state law, GOP leaders have 75 days to appoint a nominee if no candidate ran in the primary. That law appears to apply in the special write-in election.