Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In tomorrow's Albuquerque mayoral race, the candidate in first place may very well be third most likely to win. That's a message I glean from a new poll, which places State Rep. Richard Berry at 31%, Martin Chavez, the incumbent, at 26% and former state senator Richard Romero at 24%.
Chavez and Romero are both Democrats. Once one of them is eliminated in the first round of voting, the other should consolidate the Democratic vote against Berry, a Republican. Municipal politics don't always work like that (and the race is nominally non-partisan), but Berry would likely be an underdog against either Chavez or Romero in Democratic-leaning Albuquerque.
There's one complicating factor, however. Berry might not have to face Chavez or Romero in a head-to-head matchup. If a candidate makes it past 40% in the first round, he wins.
That rule, frankly, is rather bizarre and seems entirely predicated on the idea that mayoral elections won't just be non-partisan in name, but in reality too. Why should one party be able to elect a mayor with less than a majority of the vote just because the opposition happens to be divided?
But, those are the rules. With Berry at 31% in the poll, it doesn't look like he'll surpass 40%. Still, he's close enough to striking distance that tomorrow may be his best chance to win.
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