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Shah hopes for repeat of 2009 race

Candidate Shruti Shah joins Medlin in the runoff election, to be held next week.
Candidate Shruti Shah joins Medlin in the runoff election, to be held next week.

The popular male frontrunner gets more than 40 percent of the vote. His large campaign staff is thrilled to head into a runoff against the female candidate who won a much smaller portion of the vote. The eliminated candidates begin to throw their support behind her campaign, with the hope of upsetting the frontrunner.

It’s 2009 all over again.

Tuesday’s student body president election saw Hogan Medlin take 44 percent of the vote. He is the frontrunner heading into the runoff with Shruti Shah, who gathered 16 percent of the vote.

It’s reminiscent of last year’s election, when Thomas Edwards took 41 percent of the initial vote in a six-candidate field.

But whether Shah will be able to gather the endorsements and support of the four eliminated candidates and use that momentum to overcome the frontrunner, as current Student Body President Jasmin Jones did last year in a runoff against Edwards, remains to be seen.

“It a whole new race,” Shah said of the runoff. “It’s a new game, and it’s just the two of us. Either of us could win.”

Eliminated candidates Joe Levin-Manning and Greg Strompolos have decided to endorse Shah. Nash Kuene said he will support her candidacy, although he’s not sure if he would consider it an endorsement.

But Monique Hardin — the third-place finisher who could hold a lot of sway over the outcome of the runoff — is still deciding which candidate, if any, she will endorse. She received 1,034 votes in the general election, only 167 votes away from Shah and the chance to participate in the runoff.

Whichever remaining candidate gets the support of Hardin, who won the support of the Black Student Movement and the Out-of-State Students Association during the regular election, could see a significant bump in support.

Hardin said she has not made up her mind about where to throw her support — or if to throw it at all — but will talk with both candidates.

Shah said she hopes to receive the support of the eliminated candidates in her campaign over the next week, as she understands what a strong factor it played in Jones’ victory over Edwards.

“I mean, that’s why she won the election,” Shah said.

Jones pointed out that it will take more than simply a statement of support from the eliminated candidates to encourage hundreds of voters to cast ballots for a new individual in the runoff.

This year, the eliminated candidates took 2,917 votes, slightly more than the difference of 2,036 votes that separated Shah from Medlin.

Edwards who, like Medlin, took a clear plurality of the vote in last year’s election but lost in the general election, said he understands why eliminated candidates feel compelled to throw their support in a runoff, but questioned their effect on the election.

He added that he understands that the losing candidates might be qualified to give their opinion, but is unsure if this is how the election process should work.

“It takes away a little bit of the democratic nature of the process but that’s their decision,” he said.

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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