Kiss drew support from Curley backers in IRV

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(Host) In last week’s Burlington mayor’s race Progressive Bob Kiss maintained his first round lead during the instant run off voting and went on to win the election.

An analysis shows he drew considerable support from the backers of Republican candidate Kevin Curley.

Progressives and Republicans say they’re not surprised.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) There’s been a lot of attention focused on the Burlington mayor’s election because it marked the first time that instant run off voting has been used in Vermont.

IRV is used only if no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote.

In the Burlington race, Progressive Bob Kiss got roughly 39% of the vote. Democrat Hinda Miller received approximately 31% and Republican candidate Kevin Curley got about 26%.

Since no one got 50% of the vote, the IRV process was used, which means that the second place preferences of Kevin Curley and two minor party candidates were tabulated and added to the total.

A review of the Curley votes shows that his supporters, who chose to mark a second choice, were evenly split between Democrat Miller and Progressive Kiss.

It’s a situation that allowed Kiss to maintain his lead and put him over the 50% threshold.

Curley says he encouraged his supporters to back Kiss because he thinks Republicans and Progressives have a lot in common:

(Curley) “It’s exciting that actually the Progressives and Republicans are fairly closely aligned and even votes on the city council show that we’re more closely aligned than the Democrats. The Progressives and the Republicans both are working hard for the average working Burlingtonian.”

(Kinzel) Bob Kiss basically agrees with this analysis:

(Kiss) “I think on the issues there was some common ground. There’s no doubt that efficient government is one of the themes that we were all stressing. So those kinds of discussions crossed party lines.”

(Kinzel) St. Michael’s College political science professor Bill Grover has been studying the Burlington election results:

(Grover) “Kevin Curley is not an ideologically conservative Republican. He is kind of an old school Burlington Republican, and they love the city and they want the city to be a city that ordinary working people can live in and not have to live in the outskirts and come into work. And I think in that sense, that agenda fits real well with the Progressive agenda. They speak in some ways to the same audience.”

(Kinzel) Ian Carleton is the chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party and the head of the Burlington City Council. He thinks the personalities of the candidates and not their policies influenced the election.

(Carleton) “I do not believe however that it’s appropriate to draw broader policy conclusions out of the results from Burlington frankly because if one looks at those policy positions on a statewide level there are stark differences between the Republicans and Progressive parties.”

(Kinzel) Two legislative committees will hold a special hearing this week at the Statehouse to review the IRV results from the Burlington election.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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