Ridley-Thomas and Parks in runoff? Please, no.

Robert Greene // Published June 3, 2008 in Los Angeles Times
Somebody -- anybody -- please just get 50% plus one tonight. Otherwise, like the folktale of the political consultant who comes out of his hole on election day but doesn't see his shadow (that's how the story goes, right?) we have five more months of campaigning.

But it's looking grim in these early hours. With a still-paltry 1.35% of precincts reporting, Mark Ridley-Thomas has a comfortable lead over Bernard C. Parks in the race for Los Angeles county supervisor in the Second District. But it's not comfortable enough. Ridley-Thomas has 47.12% of the vote to Parks' 35.57%, but he needs 50% to avoid a runoff.

That might be tough. There are seven other candidates in this race, and even if none of them captures more than a few thousand votes, it could be enough to prevent anyone getting a majority. As it stands now, even Morris "Big Money" Griffin, the man who came up with the idea of an "ethnic lottery" so that winnings would only go to people of the same ethnic group as those who bought tickets, has 2% of the early vote.

So if the campaign ending now was all about Ridley-Thomas and Parks, the next five months will be, well, more Ridley-Thomas and Parks.

It's that way in any non-partisan race with more than two candidates. There will likely be at least a couple judicial runoffs in November.

It's a good opportunity for the New America Foundation to move forward with its plan for instant runoff voting, in which the runoff takes place simultaneously with the election. San Francisco currently uses IRV, as the insiders call it. Hear KPCC's Frank Stoltze report on New America's presentation yesterday at Los Angeles City Hall.

By the way, this 50% plus one issue doesn't apply to partisan primaries, like state Senate and Assembly. A Democrat just needs one more vote than his or her competitors -- same for Republicans -- to win the primary. There is a general election between party winners in November, but most districts are virtually owned by one party or the other, so it's really all being decided today.