November runoff race is wide open

The election for 4th District county supervisor June 8 was a local affair, with Paul Teixeira dominating in Nipomo — where he lives and is well-known — and Mike Zimmerman commanding in his city of residence, Arroyo Grande.

Jim Guthrie, the Arroyo Grande City Councilman who narrowly finished last in the three-man race, almost held his own with Zimmerman in Arroyo Grande — Zimmerman’s margin of victory there was 269 out of more than 8,200 votes cast.

But Guthrie lost badly to Teixeira in Nipomo, finishing third in seven out of eight precincts and trailing him by 900 votes there.

Similarly, Teixeira fared poorly in Arroyo Grande, finishing third in 11 precincts there and winning only the Cypress Ridge precincts, which, though they are technically in Arroyo Grande, are on the Nipomo Mesa.

The race was a squeaker, with Teixeira beating Guthrie for second place by 270 votes out of more than 14,000 cast.Zimmerman was the clear leader, with 38 percent of the vote to Teixeira’s 32 percent and Guthrie’s 30 percent. But the fact that nobody cracked even 40 percent, added to the hometown nature of the voting pattern, indicates that the race is wide open for the November runoff.

November will have different voting patterns as well, Guthrie said. There was a large Republican turnout June 8 because the Republican ballot contained contested elections for state Assembly, governor and U.S. Senate.All three of those races were uncontested in the Democratic primary, which may have suppressed Democrat turnout, he said.

Guthrie voters may hold the key to victory in the battle to become the next supervisor from South County, although, as Guthrie told The Tribune last week, the people who voted for him may not be naturally drawn to either of his former opponents.

Although the race is non-partisan, Guthrie is a “decline to state” voter, while the others are Republicans in their voter registrations and their beliefs. Zimmerman in particular hews to a classic conservative line: pro-business and anti-regulation. Teixeira’s views are more nuanced, but he describes himself as conservative.

Zimmerman said he has not approached Guthrie for an endorsement. Teixeira has, but there has been no announcement.

Both Zimmerman and Teixeira stepped back from the campaign for a breather after the election a month ago, and neither has analyzed the precinct breakdowns. However, Teixeira said this week, it is time to “get a new set of running shoes, and go after them.” He held a strategy session Wednesday.

For Zimmerman, the way forward is to repeat the approach that took him to his first-place finish June 8. “It all depends on knocking on doors and talking to people,” he told The Tribune this week. He added that he would be seeking to make inroads in Nipomo.

Door-to-door campaigning is Teixeira’s strategy as well, although he said he also will seek the endorsements of community leaders such as Guthrie and others who endorsed him. Beyond that, it will be a matter of going door-to-door and stressing his long involvement in the community. Teixeira moved to Nipomo when he was in the second grade, 46 years ago, and has been involved in countless community activities. That, he said, was a big factor in his strong showing.