Soglin appears vulnerable. With only 53% of the vote against four little-known opponents, the primary voters seem less than enthusiastic about the incumbent. To give a frame of reference, when I ran for a second term in 2007 I got about 58% in the primary, and my main opponent was the well-regarded Ray Allen, who had already won several citywide elections for Madison School Board. For Soglin to get less than that against far-less-seasoned opponents shows weakness worth noting.
Moreover, the geography of the primary results is significant. Mayoral elections are won and lost in the heavily voting isthmus, and Soglin performed worse there than in the rest of the city. He got about 40% in the Marquette and Tenney-Lapham neighborhoods. He did slightly better in my ward on the near west side, but still not above 50%.
And some of his citywide 53% likely came from voters who just didn't know much about Soglin's opponents. There's an old saying in politics that "you can't beat somebody with nobody." Well, Paul Soglin is arguably the most "somebody" guy in town. Everybody knows him. Now that voters will get to know Scott Resnick they may like what they see and feel comfortable splitting off from an incumbent they may not like, but to which they felt there was no alternative.
Given the fireworks between the candidates on election night, with Soglin firing off several attacks and Resnick not shy about returning the fire, this could be a lot of fun. A clash of ideas and leadership styles is a good thing, and a spirited debate, even a sometimes raucous one, is healthy for the community.
Let's give a hand to former Ald. Bridget Maniaci. She's shown courage as a public official and pluck as a candidate. Had she been the one to survive, she would have given Soglin a good run for his money.
Instead, those honors go to Scott Resnick. And based on the primary numbers, Resnick has a good chance to be the second mayor in recent history to take office before he reaches his 30th birthday -- the other having been Paul Soglin.