November 8, 2005 Iowa City Election
Welcome to the council, Amy! Correia cleaned up in the usual progressive zones and did well with students (turnout low, but still up), and maintained dignity everywhere, nowhere below 42%. Great candidate, great message, great campaign.
Mike O'Donnell is saved by anti-public power voters and wins yet another term by his characteristic close margin. Did the students make the difference? I don't think the numbers bear it out, but 104 of his 185 vote win came from student precincts where Dobyns was dead last, and he won the absentees (just barely over Correia). Maybe with those small in number, but overwhelming in percentage, student votes, the bar owners finally won one - ironically, giving victory to the same candidate they nearly beat four years ago.
So what of the good doctor? Dobyns held his west side base but failed to expand on his first place primary finish. The vaugeness didn't wear well, and he'll go down in Iowa City history with such other all things to all people, "sure winners" as Howie Vernon and Kathy Moyers, and not run again.
On the other hand, Garry Klein may have a brighter future than Dobyns despite his fourth place finish. His nearly 4,000 votes would have seemed far more impressive in a year of normal turnout. He was strong, but not AS strong, the same places Correia was. Maybe progressives underestimated their reach...
The ballot issues outpolled the candidates. And the undervoting was heaviest on the southeast side, the working class Tory belt of southeast Iowa City - precincts 10, 12, and 14, where it appears roughly a quarter of the voters cast choices on the issues but not the candidates. And these were overwhelming NO votes.
It's hard to find bright spots in a two to one loss. One could say that losing two to one while being outspent 20 to one is some sort of moral victory. It might have been a lot closer if progressives had been united, instead of engaging in the petty politics of a labor turf war.
But even that might not have been enough. Mid-American was simply determined to spend whatever it took to win, and the detailed, intricate public power message was simply overwhelmed in a sea of doubt.
So. We replace Ernie Lehman with Amy Correia and now have two solid progressive votes on the Council - and, more importantly, two effective progressive advocates. Despite the public power loss, it feels like a step forward for progressive Iowa City.