Common sense suggests respected incumbents won't lose the endorsement of their party unless something goes really wrong.
But common sense and politics don't always mix.
When South District City Councilmember Tony Thompson recently failed to gain the Democratic Party's nomination to run for a second term, it wasn't by a sliver. It was by a landslide.
Out of 5,500 "weighted" in-person or proxy votes at the Democratic Convention, Thompson received 500. Adam McFadden, leader of the Democratic Party's 27th Legislative District and president of the 19th Ward Neighborhood Association, got the other 5,000.
But there's not a lot of shock going around City Hall, or in the Democratic Party.
Given the Dems' designation process, where a legislative district's votes are given more or less weight based on its turnout for the last gubernatorial election, Monroe County Dem Party Chairperson Molly Clifford isn't surprised by the result.
"Adam's the leader of the 27th LD, and that committee has a very high vote total," Clifford says. "Adam is a popular leader, and obviously made the case."
Thompson, who beat out McFadden and two other candidates for his party's nod four years ago, is regarded in City Hall and in his party as a hardworking councilmember especially focused on solving his constituents' problems. But he's also shy.
One party insider, who asked not to be identified, describes Thompson as somebody who always went to the right meetings, but would often be "the guy sitting quietly in the back taking notes." Not exactly the type of personality geared for schmoozing with potential supporters. (A youth aide who works nights for the state Office of Children and Family Services, Thompson could not be reached for comment.)
A source close to Thompson says the city councilmember was "thunderstruck" by the vote margin at the convention, and is weighing his options when it comes to forcing a primary in September.
Thompson and McFadden are ambitious, well-respected, and relatively young black men. But that's where their similarities end.
In the private realm, McFadden's a professional software developer with a background in local HipHop radio. He's starting his own record label, and has been engineering recordings by local HipHop artists from his home studio.
During the weekend of the Democratic Convention, McFadden hosted a freelance writer from The Source (a national HipHop magazine) who may be writing about McFadden's involvement with the Democratic Party.
McFadden says knew that his blowout victory "was capable of happening," but his doubt grew as Mayor Bill Johnson continued to pull for Thompson.
"The mayor was really twisting arms, so I didn't know if my people who were committed to me would stay committed. But they did."
It's clear McFadden is willing to ruffle feathers without regard to political affiliation. And he's not willing to settle, as proven by his opinion on the long-delayed Brooks Landing retail center, which is finally going to break ground in the retail-starved 19th Ward.
"I expected Brooks Landing to be there," McFadden says. "So it's not a celebration for me. I'll start celebrating when development starts going down Genesee Street, down Brooks to Thurston and Chili. That's when I'll start popping the champagne bottles open."