Candidates not surprised by mayoral results

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 3:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 3:57 p.m.

Three former single-member district city commissioners were among the candidates who vied Tuesday for the office of Gainesville mayor.

In a less than stunning turn of events, each carried his old district.

Former Commissioner Ed Braddy carried the suburban western areas of the city. In the primarily northwestern area of his former District 2, he received more than 49 percent of the votes cast. There, incumbent Mayor Craig Lowe, who advanced to an April 16 runoff with Braddy, drew less than 32 percent.

Braddy also drew the most votes in the western, mostly suburban District 3 — the only district that did not have a former commissioner in the race for mayor.

There, Braddy drew 45 percent of the vote, compared with a little less than 41 percent for Lowe.

"We're not too surprised," Braddy said of Tuesday's results. "We did well where we wanted to do well. We got some surprisingly good results in District 3, the precincts there."

Lowe received more than 53 percent of the vote in his former District 4, which includes the University Park and Duck Pond neighborhoods and the University of Florida campus precincts. Braddy, on the other hand, drew less than 25 percent of the vote there.

Nick Mildebrath, Lowe's campaign manager, described the results as "unsurprising," particularly in a municipal race where former commissioners enjoy name recognition in the districts they had represented.

Mildebrath noted that Braddy carried the suburban areas that tend to vote for conservative candidates, while Lowe did well in areas that tend to vote Democratic.

Former Commissioner Scherwin Henry carried District 1, his old district, with nearly 56 percent of the vote. In that district, which includes much of east Gainesville, Lowe drew approximately 24 percent of the vote and Braddy just less than 16 percent.

In a race where less than 15 percent of the city's nearly 82,000 voters participated, two west Gainesville precincts had the highest turnout.

There was 36 percent turnout at the University City Church of Christ in the 4600 block of Northwest Eighth Avenue and 32.2 percent turnout at Westminster Presbyterian Church in the 1500 block of Northwest 34th Street. Braddy had the most votes at both of those precincts.

Looking at the four districts in the city, the most votes were cast in District 2, with 4,825. There were 3,180 votes cast in District 3 and 2,067 cast in District 4. In District 1, 1,992 voters cast a ballot.

Moving ahead to April, Braddy and Lowe have to try to attract the more than 3,000 voters who supported another candidate, including more than 2,000 who went for Henry, and attempt to mobilize more of the more than 70,000 registered voters who did not vote.

Braddy said he felt that Henry's supporters were "also concerned about how to get by in this tough economy and keeping Gainesville affordable, which is the heart of our message."

He noted Henry campaigned on a message that there was a division between the public and City Hall and that a change of leadership was needed to bridge that gap.

Braddy pointed out that the theme of "bringing better leadership" to City Hall is also part of his campaign.

Mildebrath said Lowe would campaign "everywhere" to try to gain votes and not "single out any one part of town."

He said he felt Lowe's "politics line up with a lot of the people who supported Henry."

Both Lowe and Henry are Democrats. On the campaign trail, members of the Democratic Executive Committee, including current and former city and county commissioners, primarily threw their support behind Lowe.

In the last days of the campaign, the Florida Democratic Party made a $2,500 contribution to Lowe's campaign. The state party did not contribute to Henry's campaign. State party officials could not be reached for comment on the contribution.

On Tuesday, Henry said he had not yet decided if he would publicly support Lowe or Braddy. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

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