About four years ago, I wrote a blog congratulating Stacy Parks Miller on her stunning election victory, defeating an incumbent district attorney by about 29 points. While this one was not unexpected, she was unopposed, I wanted to extend congratulations again for being re-elected District Attorney of Centre. She received 86.5% of the votes cast; that mean about 13.5% of the people that showed up to the polls either did not cast a vote for her, abstained, or cast a write-in vote.1
That means that, in terms of her percentage of the votes cast, she did better than any candidate running since at least 1981, inclusive. There are some reasons for that, which does not have anything to do with her job performance.
First, Ms. Parks Miller was unopposed. That has happened twice, in both 1997 and 2001, and both times Ray Gricar was the candidate (though he had a hard primary challenge in 2001). In 1997, Mr. Gricar received 78.5% of the votes cast and in 2001 Mr. Gricar received 78.4% of the votes cast, still well below Ms. Parks Miller’s performance.
Second, Ms. Parks Miller had both the Republican and Democratic nominations for District Attorney; she won the Republican nomination on write-in votes. She needed 250 and more than anyone else in that Republican Primary. Writing in a candidate is difficult to implement, and there was not a successful write-in campaign for DA in any primary since 1981, inclusive. Ms. Parks Miller’s May 21 Republican primary victory is much of the reason that she did so well; it may have a unique victory for the office of District Attorney (I have not checked prior to 1981).
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In Pennsylvania, people can vote for the party. It is referred to as a voting a straight ticket. Someone who votes for the Democratic Party, for instance, votes for all candidates running under the name of that party, even if the person is really a Republican and won on write-in votes.
In 1997 and 2001, about 6.8% of the voters in Centre County cast votes for the Democratic Party. Had Mr. Gricar been on the Democratic ticket, he would have gotten their votes (well, at least most of them). He probably would have gotten 85.3% of the vote in 1997 and 85.2% of the vote in 2001. That is close to Ms. Parks Miller’s percentage, but not quite there.
Right now, in terms of electability, Ms. Parks Miller is the strongest District Attorney in Centre County since at least 1981. The 2009 election might have been rightly regarded as a “repudiation” of the then incumbent district attorney.2 The 2013 election was a strong endorsement of the incumbent District Attorney, Stacy Parks Miller.
1 The results for Centre County elections since 1996 are here:/http://centrecountypa.gov/
Centre Daily Times Ray Gricar Section: http://www.centredaily.com/138/
Link to the Main Index for Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/21/2597340/main-index-32011.html
E-mail J. J. in Phila at firstname.lastname@example.org