Megan Stock’s vision for Lincoln mobilized voters and came within spitting distance of overtaking a candidate funded by Ricketts and corporate interests, and Megan Stock should be appointed to Leirion Gaylor Baird’s empty City Council seat.
Yesterday’s city elections in Lincoln were a big win for progressives, resulting in a new Democratic mayor, Leirion Gaylor Baird, and three out of the four city council seats that were up for grabs turning or staying blue: Jane Raybould, Tammy Ward, and James Michael Bowers, the openly gay candidate who now represents the district previously represented by unmitigated homophobe Cyndi Lamm.
The fourth city council seat, District 2, went to Republican Richard Meginnis, who beat Democrat Megan Stock–this was widely predicted given the demographics of the district.
But let’s take a closer look at that race because despite not winning the election, Megan Stock actually pulled off something quite remarkable.
In the primary election, Stock was facing two Republican opponents: Meginnis and Michael James. Here’s how the primary vote went:
- Stock: 7,180
- Meginnis: 6,607
- James: 4,314
Onlookers would reasonably assume that in the general election James’s votes would migrate to Meginnis, for a final tally that might look like this:
- Meginnis: 10,921
- Stock: 7,180
That would be about a 1.5 to 1 vote ratio favoring Meginnis. We should also expect the raw numbers to be higher because more people vote in the general than the primary. In fact, the number of voters in the general election (61,394) was 17% higher than the primary election (52,457). So if we were to apply that to the primary votes in the Stock/Meginnis race, we might anticipate this:
- Meginnis: 12,777
- Stock: 8,400
Those numbers would maintain a 1.5 to 1 ratio favoring the Republican and adjust for a 17% increase in number of votes cast. But that is not even remotely what we got. These were the final numbers:
- Meginnis: 11,564
- Stock: 11,028
That’s a 1.05 to 1 ratio for Meginnis, not a 1.5 to 1. And District 2’s voters did not increase 17% from primary to general–they went up by 25%. That massive voter increase resulted in Megan Stock, the progressive art teacher, closing in on a well-funded Republican candidate in a Republican district, losing to him by 536 votes, not 4,000. Megan Stock turned out the vote.
In fact, of the 8937 voters who did not vote in the primary but did turn out for the general, half of them were in District 2.
Now let’s take a look at money. According to financial disclosure forms and late filings, Stock ran her campaign on about $25,000. Meginnis ran his on about $55,000. With over twice the money, in a historically conservative district, Meginnis still barely beat Stock.
Where does that money come from? Stock’s biggest donors were environmentalists and working class professional unions: the League of Conservation Voters, the teacher’s union, the firefighter union. You’ll never guess who Meginnis’s biggest donors were: Lincoln Independent Business Association (LIBA) at over $10,000; a shooting/hunting company called Blackstone Outfitting that helps affluent white men shoot exotic animals ($5,000), the realtors PAC, and…drumroll… Governor Pete Ricketts, who never met an election he didn’t try to buy, at $5,000.
Meginnis is on the City Council because extremely rich people who make their money from gentrifying Lincoln, oppressing poor people, and shooting guns pumped so much money into his campaign that he ended up with over twice what Megan Stock had, and yet with her progressive vision and a lot of hard work she still almost beat him.
The City Council will soon select a replacement for Leirion Gaylor Baird, whose at-large council seat is empty now that she is mayor. As far as we can tell this is unprecedented in Lincoln history, and the council will have to deliberate how to choose a replacement for a progressive woman’s seat. We at Seeing Red sincerely hope they do not fail the mandate they were given by Lincoln voters, who say it is high time for our blue city to stand for equality, democracy, and humane policies. Baird’s seat should go to Megan Stock, the scrappy art teacher who mobilized firefighters, environmentalists, and new voters to energize a Republican district so much that that she almost beat a conservative whose seat was paid for by corporations.