PENSACOLA MAYOR’S RACE BY THE NUMBERS Gen-X-er Ashton Hayward beat baby boomer Mike Wiggins by 817 votes, 10,666-9,849, in the Nov. 2 vote for Pensacola’s first strong mayor. In 2008, Wiggins ran away with the mayor’s race receiving 59 percent of the votes cast. Two years later, the incumbent only got 48 percent of the vote: an 11-point reversal.
The old political axiom that incumbents must win their primaries by at least 45 percent of the votes cast to win the general election proved true. Mayor Wiggins only garnered 37 percent of the votes in the Aug. 24 primary that included Councilwoman Diane Mack and businessman Charles Bare.
After the primary, that axiom was challenged. Both Mack and Bare endorsed Wiggins, which some felt might stack the election in his favor against the political newcomer Hayward. It was widely thought that Wiggins and Hayward would split the votes in the east Pensacola districts of P.C. Wu (District 1), Sam Hall (District 2), Maren DeWeese (District 3) and Larry Johnson (District 4).
Older voters would most probably favor Wiggins, who had served on the city council for 15 years. Younger voters would lean toward Hayward, but would they vote in significant numbers to offset their elders?
Everything was pointing to the mayor’s race being decided in the African-American community, although some doubted they would vote in large enough numbers to have an impact. All three African-American council members supported Wiggins and it showed in the primary.
Wiggins led Hayward by 359 votes in districts 5 (John Jerralds), 6 (Jewel Cannada-Wynn) and 7 (Ron Townsend) with the largest margin of 195 votes in John Jerralds’ District 5.
On Nov. 2, Wiggins and Hayward did split districts 1 through 4. Wiggins won them by a 113-vote margin. However, there was a complete reversal in districts 5, 6 and 7. The former Wiggins’ stronghold had a 1,282-vote swing toward Hayward, giving the challenger 923 more votes in those districts than the incumbent.
Jerralds lost his home precinct, Macedonia Baptist Church, for Wiggins by 109 votes. Ron Townsend’s District 7 went 62 percent for Hayward. Jewel Cannada-Wynn not only saw Hayward outpoll Wiggins in her District 6 by 258 votes, but also lost her council seat to architect Brian Spencer.
None of the council members won their districts for their mayoral candidates. Wu supported Wiggins and saw Hayward win his district by 131 votes. Hall, DeWeese and Johnson endorsed Hayward only to see Wiggins win in their districts by vote margins of 41, 155 and 47, respectively.
And what were the values of the endorsements of Mack and Bare? Not much.
Mack placed a distant third in the Aug. 24 primary. Forty-three percent of her 2,054 votes came from five precincts: Macedonia, Flamingo Road Church, Cokesbury United Methodist Church, Fricker Community Center and Vickrey Community Center. In the primary, Hayward lost those five precincts to Wiggins by 281 votes. On Election Day, Hayward won them by 457 votes.
Bare brought up the rear in the August primary with 1,765 votes. He got 49 percent of his votes in five precincts: Cokesbury, Flamingo Road, Vickrey, Trinity Presbyterian Church and East Pensacola Heights. These polling places gave Wiggins a 28-vote over Hayward in the primary and a 49-vote margin in the general election. Bare’s endorsement was worth a net of 21 votes for Wiggins.
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