2019 Democratic Party primary for Bloomington city offices draws highest participation in several election cycles

Based on the candidate filings reported by the Bloomington Herald-Times, this year’s Democratic Party primary races will be among the most competitive in the modern era, which dates to the 1967 election cycle.

This year’s Democratic Party primary, held on May 7, will feature competitive races for all but two of 11 seats—city clerk and the District 6 seat on the city council. For those two seats, voters in the primary won’t have a choice in the primary. Bloomington voters elect 11 people to represent them in city government: a mayor, a city clerk, and nine councilmembers.

And measured by raw numbers of candidates, the 22 total candidates in this year’s Democratic Primary features the highest participation since 1971, when 24 candidates vied for the 11 nominations.

The increased interest in this year’s Democratic Party primary could be analyzed as a way to counterbalance the lack of competition in November’s general election for the last three cycles: in 2007 only five of 11 seats were contested; in 2011 the number of contested seats in November dropped to three; and in 2015 the number of contested seats bumped back up to just five of 11.

In 2015, two of the five contested seats owed their competition to candidates who didn’t run representing either of the two most prominent national parties. Scott Tibbs was a registered write-in candidate for a council at-large seat. Dave Nakardo ran as a Libertarian for the District 1 city council seat.

Only one Republican candidate is standing for elected local office in the primary this year, in District 2. That points to a slim chance for more than one competitive race in November.

But the chance is not zero. According to the calendar published by the  Indiana Secretary of State’s election division, the Republican and Libertarian parties have until June 30 to add candidates to the ballot. And up to July 1, independent and “minor party” candidates can still be added to the ballot.

Bloomington Election Competitive Races
The nine city government seats for which there’s a competitive race in the Democratic Party primary is the highest number since 1987 when 10 seats had competitive races.
Bloomington Election Participation
The 22 total candidates in the Democratic Party primary for city offices this year are tied for the highest number of candidates since 1971. That year, 24 candidates vied for the 11 nominations.