Thursday, June 5, 2008
Jane Parker waltzes through the doorway of Ol’ Factory Cafe dressed in a black pantsuit. Her supporters, who are drinking beers and munching on fish and chips, clap and shout to greet their supervisor candidate. The large crowd is livened up from Sen. Barack Obama’s clinching of the Democratric nod for president and is hoping Parker will also finally end her long-sought bid for the District 4 supervisorial seat.
But an hour after polls closed on June 3 there are still no election results for the nail-biting race between Parker and Supervisor Ila Mettee-McCutchon. “I don’t know if this is going to be a party or a funeral,” says Bobby Steger of Monterey. “[Parker] is up against so much money.” In about five months Mettee-McCutchon raised more than $250,000. (She even garnered several 11th-hour donations, including $1,000 from Monsanto Co.)
Peter Kwiek, a Parker campaign volunteer from Salinas, is more upbeat about Parker’s chances. “We have people power,” Kwiek says while holding a glass of Duvel beer. “We have lots of volunteers.”
Early results float around the room. It doesn’t look good for Parker. With only early absentee ballots counted, Mettee-McCutchon leads with about 52 percent of the vote. Parker grabs a mic at the front of the café. “It’s not quite the results we were looking for,” she says, “but it’s important to realize that Democrats don’t do as well [in early voting].”
Parker says volunteers contacted 15,000 voters and 6,000 of them said they would support her. “Voters really want responsible government,” she says. “They want access to quality health care… and they want responsible growth in Monterey County.”
By the next morning, it would look like Parker was right. According to the registrar’s semi-final count, Parker was winning by 289 votes, the county still has thousands of vote-by-mail ballots to count, as well as those delivered by voters to precincts, and some provisional ballots.
“I don’t count any chickens until they hatch,” Mettee-McCutchon says while holding a glass of white wine at the American Legion hall in Marina. The red Budweiser signs along the walls of the legion match her campaign signs and outfit.
Marina resident Irene Colon sits at the bar. “She was good for the city,” says Colon, citing Mettee-McCutchon’s near decade on the Marina City Council. “Now she we will do good as supervisor.”
If the election department ever finishes counting the votes, that is. It’s after 11pm and still no precincts have reported. Finally a measly four precincts come in. Mettee-McCutchon still leads, but now only by 146 votes. It’s time for last call at the Legion. John McCutchon brings his wife a celebratory martini.
Based on the semi-final results, it would turn out to be too early to celebrate after all.