Nominations announced: Harrison tops ballot by wide margin (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

The names and numbers of nominations for Synod President were announced today, and the results are stunning. Matthew Harrison tops the ballot, and by a wide margin. The incumbent, Gerald Kieschnick, is second in nominations, his numbers far down from previous ballots. Herbert Mueller is next, and, after a long series of declinations, Carl Fickenscher and Daniel Gard complete the required ballot of five. The election will take place at the Synod’s convention in Houston, July 10-17.

Here are the names and numbers:

Matthew Harrison — 1,332
Gerald Kieschnick — 755
Herbert Mueller, Jr. — 503
Carl Fickenscher II — 5
Daniel Gard — 3

Several things jump out here. First is the very strong support for Matt Harrison. To receive such a high number of nominations from congregations shows widespread backing from across the Synod, a real groundswell of support. Harrison’s work as Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, his writing and public speaking, the direction he has been advocating for the Missouri Synod . . . Harrison evidently has made a very positive impression.

The second thing that leaps off the page is the fact that the incumbent, Jerry Kieschnick, does not top the ballot. And Kieschnick’s numbers are far down from his previous nominations. In 2004 and 2007, as an incumbent, Kieschnick had hundreds of more nominations than the second name on the ballot. This time, however, Kieschnick himself is the second name, with 577 fewer nominations than Harrison.

Kieschnick’s totals as an incumbent:

2004: 1244 nominations (elected at convention with 53% of the vote)
2007: 1055 nominations (elected at convention with 52% of the vote)
2010: 755 nominations

Kieschnick’s support appears to be dwindling.

For a running incumbent not to receive the most nominations is highly unusual. The last time (perhaps the only other time) that occurred was in 1992, when Alvin Barry received 90 more nominations than incumbent Ralph Bohlmann. Barry then went on to be elected president at that summer’s convention. (Only three times in Missouri’s 163-year history has a running incumbent lost, in 1935, 1969, and 1992. I don’t think nomination numbers are available for 1935 and 1969.)

The third thing that is eye-catching in today’s news is the obvious and astounding number of declinations there must have been. In between Mueller’s 503 nominations and Fickenscher’s 5, there had to have been a long list of men who qualified for the ballot of five, or could have moved up onto it, but instead declined. To have so many nominees decline is unprecedented. President Kieschnick’s first vice-president, Bill Diekelman, who the last two elections has let his name stand, this time declined. This tells me there must be some concern about Kieschnick needing every single vote at the convention, even the handful of votes Diekelman might get. And with Diekelman declining, others did likewise. While there must, according to bylaw, be five names on the ballot, there does seem to be a move, on both sides, to “clear the field,” so as not to pull even a few votes away from either Kieschnick or Harrison. My guess is that almost all the delegates will cast their votes for one of those two top candidates. For example, I would guess that Harrison will get virtually all, if not 100%, of the non-Kieschnick votes.

Also announced in today’s news release were the names and numbers of nominations for First Vice-President:

Herbert Mueller — 809
Matthew Harrison — 728
William Diekelman — 244
Wallace Schulz — 240
Jeffery Schrank — 112

Mueller appears to be Harrison’s de facto “running mate.” And again, the incumbent, Diekelman, is far behind.

Also announced was the pool of twenty names for vice-presidents two through five:

John Wohlrabe Jr. — 800
David Adams — 682
Daniel Preus — 488
Paul Maier — 481
Scott Murray — 436
Dean Nadasdy — 435
David Buegler — 353
Herbert Mueller Jr. — 195
Carl Fickenscher II — 161
Wallace Schulz — 159
Victor Belton — 134
Luther Brunette — 74
Matthew Harrison — 45
Lawrence Rast — 44
Dean Wenthe — 42
Harold Senkbeil — 36
Clint Poppe — 35
John Pless — 34
Jacob Preus — 32
Daniel Gard — 30

Maier, Wohlrabe, Nadasdy, and Buegler are the 2-5VP incumbents, respectively.

The offical notice is posted at the Synod’s website:

Nominations announced for president, vice-presidents

For further analysis, go to this article at the website of Cross-Focused Leadership for Missouri:

The Numbers are In

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