Incumbent Jean Stothert and a former state senator have advanced as Omaha mayoral candidates to the general election May 9, but the votes of other candidates could make all the difference.
Stothert and Heath Mello were the leading vote-getters in Omaha's primary election Tuesday. The Republican Stothert beat the Democrat Mello by 3 percentage points in the officially nonpartisan balloting. Stothert finished with 44 percent of the votes, compared with Mello's 41 percent.
Newcomer Taylor Royal finished third. He's an accountant who wants to bring an NFL team to Omaha. Social entrepreneur Ean Mikale, a drone enthusiast, finished fourth, and karate studio owner Christopher Geary, a frequent electoral candidate, was fifth.
“I just saw his sign on Dodge Street and I was talking to my brother and I said, ‘do you know who this Taylor Royal is?’"
Dr. Clarke Stevens is one of more than 6000 people who supported Royal going into Monday’s primary. Royal ran his campaign as the only Trump supporter, but also as an anti-establishment candidate, racking up 11 percent of the vote.
"I think most of the Taylor supporters will vote for the mayor. Because I think - it’s not supposed to be party-oriented - but probably most of those supporters were Republican," Stevens said.
A total of 1636 votes separated Stothert and Mello in the primary. While Stevens has already decided to support Stothert, there are many undecided voters - including Royal.
"Mayor Jean Stothert is doing a good job in our city and Heath Mello is obviously bringing a fresh perspective to the race, which is what i was hoping to do as well,” Royal said. “We'll kind of re-evaluate where things sit and hoping to add a lot to this race going forward."
While Royal's votes alone are enough to impact the general election, coupled with mayoral candidate Ean Mikale's 1700 supporters, there are more than 8-thousand votes up for grabs just from the primary alone.