After decades in office and with wide name recognition, incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin came out on top in Tuesday's mayoral primary, grabbing 52.7% of the vote. Second-place finisher Ald. Scott Resnick sees opportunity in that number.
"It means we are within striking distance," said Resnick in an interview Tuesday night after addressing supporters at the Fountain, a bar on State Street.
His campaign manager, Mike Basford, had the same thought.
"[Soglin] has the name and history advantage, and he could only clear 52% of people who turned out," said Basford. That leaves "quite a few more voters" to reach by the general election in April, he added. Basford said he'll have to review turnout details, but believes the campaign can better reach new voters and students.
"We have a lot of room to grow on campus and throughout the city," he said.
Soglin campaign manager Melissa Mulliken reads the numbers differently.
"We were shooting for 50%; 53% is over that," she said Wednesday morning. "In a five-way primary, that's a good number. Paul got more votes than the other candidates combined."
According to unofficial results from the Dane County clerk's office, Resnick pulled in 23.3% of the vote, former Ald. Bridget Maniaci 14.8%, former Dane County Supervisor Richard Brown Sr. 4.6% and Christopher Daly 4.3%.
Maniaci and Brown said Wednesday morning they are not yet ready to endorse either candidate, but Daly has thrown his support behind Soglin.
Soglin and Resnick will face off in the general election on April 7.
When thanking supporters Tuesday night at the Cardinal Bar, Soglin went on the attack.
"Do we want a candidate who is going to vote within one year and one budget for a 50% increase for council salaries, or do we prefer someone who fights tooth and nail to get a
half-percent increase for the majority of city employees?" Soglin asked.
Soglin also took Resnick to task for his support of ridesharing companies Lyft and Uber and the alderman's votes on the Judge Doyle Square project, which called for a hotel to support the Monona Terrace Convention Center.
"Do we want a candidate who will vote for $17 million for TIF for a hotel or a candidate who says $17 million of your money which can be used for other investments would best be used elsewhere? It's not just about that specific project; it's about the judgment that goes into those decisions."
Resnick says Soglin is distorting his record. When it comes to ridesharing companies, Resnick says he has pushed for safeguards. "I want background checks and insurance requirements in place," he said. He also says Soglin is running from his own record on Judge Doyle Square.
"Paul is trying to paint me as the figurehead behind Judge Doyle Square. And it is so far from the truth. He has been behind this project from day one. It's disingenuous."
Over the summer, the council and mayor pulled the plug on a $174 million project by developer Bob Dunn that would have required substantial city support.
Mulliken says Soglin will continue to campaign on issues he has been working on -- growing the economy, getting the city's finances in order and working on the gaps in employment and opportunity in the city. She says there are real differences between the candidates in this race.
"Voters will have a clear choice."
"Madison is tired of the status quo," he said Tuesday night. "We're tired of the listless, reactionary leadership. This is preventing our city from moving forward and being the great community I know that we can be. Our next mayor must represent each and every person in the city of Madison."
Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl had been hopeful of a 25% turnout for the mayoral primary. But by midafternoon, she had lowered her expectations. In the end, turnout was only 12.9% of Madison's 183,317 registered voters. It wasn't the worst in decades -- just the second worst.
In 1999, only 10% of registered voters turned out for a four-way mayoral primary. Mayor Sue Bauman got 68% of the vote, with the late Eugene Parks coming in second with 16%.