As Courtney Pannell ’11 and Jeff Gordon ’12 prepared for today’s runoff after what was the closest Yale College Council election in recent memory, endorsements on both sides flooded in, raising new questions and heightening tensions.
Pete Croughan ’12, who came in a close third for YCC president in the election earlier this week, endorsed Gordon on Tuesday, but all but one newly elected member of the incoming YCC board backed Pannell on Wednesday, raising the stakes for today’s faceoff.
After hearing he had moved on to the runoff against Pannell, Gordon sent an e-mail to several newly elected board members early Wednesday morning advising them not to endorse in the race “primarily because you’re going to be working with one of us next year. Also because it’s going to be me,” he continued, “considering that Pete is endorsing me.”
Gordon told the News he sent the message in a “euphoric” state, and that he was “just joking around.”
Pannell declined to comment on the e-mail. But she did level a different accusation of foul play. After Croughan appeared in an ad for Gordon in a Facebook album titled “VOTE JEFF” on Wednesday, Charlie Jaeger ’12, a friend of Gordon’s involved with the campaign, tagged Pannell in the photo.
Pannell called the move a “low-blow.”
“I thought it was silly,” said Pannell, who is also a multimedia editor for the News. “Obviously, I have thicker skin than that, so it doesn’t bother me too much, but I would like to see this campaign remain as positive as possible, and I think that detracted from it.”
Gordon said he e-mailed Pannell to apologize on behalf of Jaeger and assured her that he also wants to keep the campaign positive. He called the incident a “surprise and a disappointment.”
Meanwhile, following suit with other Pannell supporters, YCC secretary-elect Lauren Koster ’12 and UOFC chair-elect Chris LoPresti ’12 changed their Facebook profile pictures to show Pannell’s campaign posters. Vice president-elect Annie Shi ’12 and events director-elect Michael Chao ’11 also endorsed Pannell.
LoPresti later took down the photo and said he is not endorsing either candidate publicly because it’s not his role as a “publicly elected official.”
Treasurer-elect Brandon Levin ’13 said he would not endorse in the race, adding that he does not think it is his place to support a candidate publicly. Indeed, some members of the current YCC have expressed concerns that these endorsements could create tension.
“I thought that was an interesting decision,” current YCC Events Director Mathilde Williams ’11 said. “Hopefully [Gordon] doesn’t have any hard feelings. Everyone loves Jeff.”
Gordon, too, expressed concern with the endorsements, saying that although Croughan was once a candidate, he now represents only himself, unlike the members of the board endorsing Pannell.
Though Gordon said he worried that their decision to endorse may not have been “tactful” or “professional,” he added that each member of next year’s board who endorsed Pannell insisted privately that were Gordon to win, they would have a comfortable working relationship.
“It’s not like if I win this is going to be a problem in any way,” Gordon said.
Even as this drama unfolded Wednesday, both Gordon and Pannell said they were focused on one thing: getting out the vote. As the campaign drags on, Gordon said the candidates must be careful not to cross the line from rallying to annoying their supporters.
Gordon said he will focus on compelling friends and friends of friends to vote through word of mouth, instead of sending mass e-mails. For her part, Pannell said she will primarily stick to in-person campaigning for the duration of the election cycle, though she added that several of the newly elected executive board members said they planned to send e-mails encouraging their supporters to vote for Pannell.
Gordon said he hopes to leverage Croughan’s endorsement with the 1,025 Yalies who supported Croughan in the first round, adding that aside from the endorsement, Croughan and Gordon support similar platforms.
“[Croughan] holds a lot of respect and authority with his supporters, so I think his vote of confidence with me will go a long way,” Gordon said.
But this may not come as naturally as he hopes — though 14 of 40 former Croughan supporters interviewed said they would be voting for Gordon today (compared to eight for Pannell), 18 said they either were unsure whom they would support or would abstain altogether.
Charles Gyer ’13, who originally supported and campaigned for Croughan, said he would be voting for Gordon because of his “mastery” of the issues YCC currently faces.
“When I saw the debates, it seemed like he had a greater handle substantively of what’s going on,” Gyer said.
And as Tuesday’s results make clear, each former Croughan vote will count: In the initial tally, Pannell edged out Gordon by only two votes.