Saturday, May 16, 2015

Filing week analysis

Wow, what a final day. I must admit I’ve never really seen quite this much activity on the last day of filing.

There are five candidates running; including Republicans Tom Mielke, David Madore and Jeanne Stewart; whatever-he-is-today Marc Boldt and fringe-left whacker Mike Dalesandro.

Dalesandro is a currently sitting Battle Ground City Councilman.  As you might expect, he’s a democrat somewhat to the left of Mao. A slavish devotee of Barack Obama.  I've got lots of stuff on him that I'm sure he won't talk about... so I certainly will.

His last second sacrificial lamb, political opportunist entrance into the race however, ensures that Marc Boldt has no chance of any kind, and in fact may result in Marc withdrawing on Monday as he has the right to do.  Of course, much of it depends on Boldt’s stubbornness factor.  I won't be surprised if Boldt decides to play the role of petulant jerk (I've been getting that quite a bit lately) and just see him keep his name on the ballot and do nothing since he's going to be broke for this election... kind of like he did with his decision to run for PCO in an organization that has kicked him out.

The dynamics of the three current sitting counselors going head-to-head over the next three months or so until the primary election takes place, will be political gold that gets talked about around the electoral campfires for years to come.

At first blush, Dalesandro also has no chance of election countywide. The only reason he won election to Battle Ground’s City Council is he just happen to be running against the woman who was the Mayor (the mayor is chosen by the City Council) and as it turns out, she was ultimately portrayed, accurately so, as being both homeless and something of a nut job.

When her homeless status was made known through the media, her knee-jerk reaction was first to withdraw, and then only later to return to be elective race… But by then the damage had been done.  Had Dalesandro ran against anyone else, he'd have been hammered and we never would have heard of him again.

As it is, the dems were looking for a body... any body (clearly, which is why they got him) so with zero thought or preparation, Mikey jumped in... only to ultimately, be thrown out.

Dalesandro is a classic leftist Democrat. He comes equipped with all of the baggage that all local Democrats have concerning the Columbia River Crossing and light rail, and he also has something of a track record within his current position of favoring substantial tax increases to address repairing Parkway Street within Battle Ground proper.

Chances are however, that between his complete lack of name familiarity countywide, his rather porcine appearance and the fact that he amounts to something along the lines of a neo-communist politically typically means that he won’t provide many reasons for people to vote for him, as opposed to people voting against Madore and or Mielke, as it did Pridemore.

Jeannie Stewart’s announcement, while late, can’t really be considered to be that much of a surprise.

Had we remained under the old Commissioner system, there is little doubt that she would have no difficulty retaining her seat. Under the charter, however, the election for her seat is only voted on by the people within her Councilor District… This essentially means the lion’s share of the extremely pro-Democrat 49th District.  For some reason, the morons behind the charter called this "increased representation," even though 4/5ths of the county can't vote on that election.

As a result, in real terms, her only real chance of staying in office would be for her to win the remaining countywide position as a result of the charter vote: County Chair.

It is going to be extremely difficult for any of the candidates running to beat up on Jeannie Stewart.

She has no record of being for tax increases, (She has, it's been brought to my attention, voted for a tax increase in 2013.  Marc, on the other hand, has voted for increases 6 out of the 8 years he was in office, for a total of a 5% increase over that time period, which included during our massive recession and high unemployment.) such as Marc.  To the extent possible, within her seat on the Vancouver City Council, she fought just as hard against the Columbia River Crossing as anyone else running for this office.

She brings with her gender identity; that is to say that women typically are much more likely to vote based on gender on the margins than they are based on party affiliation. That does not mean that women will vote for Stewart in lockstep, but what it does mean is that a male similarly situated to Stewart, with the exact same politics, could realistically expect to receive something along the lines of approximately 5% less of the vote based on the fact that he, is a he. With no other woman running for the seat, Stewart stands to benefit from the gender identity politic.

Madore, on the other hand, brings the following to the table:

1.  He has kept his campaign promises. He ran on a platform of eliminating fees to go to county parks and to fight the CRC. He has done that.  He has been successful in that regard and is responsible for providing much of the ammunition used to at least temporarily stop the project.

2.  He’s got more money than an emerging nation, and he’s not afraid to spend it.

3.  In spite of the fact that he’s won elective office, he continues to be politically na├»ve to the point of ignorance. The end result is that he has engaged in questionable political decision-making, that the local media goes out of their way to portray him as somehow being divisive when in reality I don’t necessarily see anything he’s done that divides us as a community, per se; nevertheless he has become a political lightning rod and a great deal of that is of his own doing.

For both Tom and David, the classic political themes concerning issues such as local economy, local unemployment, local housing, local fees for development, and a great many things that are “check the box” kinds of items when it comes to being reelected are likely to be considered positive.

Both Tom and David are reviled by our friendly neighborhood left.  Having been whipped up by our equally friendly neighborhood newspaper using dozens of articles, some fact… Some fiction… With a lot of exaggeration… The hatred on the left is a palpable thing. The biggest problem for our local political left is around here,  there just aren't enough of them countywide.

And, I don’t believe that hatred makes a really good platform to defeat somebody in an election.

David, of course, has a lot of money. What’s problematic for David is that in the last election, the Tanner/Mielke race tended to show that money, in and of itself, does not equate to victory.

Brief reminder; Tom Mielke’s opponent, Joe Tanner, outspent Tom roughly 8 or 9 to 1.

For all intents and purposes, David Madore brings unlimited money to this election. He can spend any amount, easily exceeding a half million dollars. He spent roughly $330,000 or so in the last election, and when you fold inflation into the equation, there is little doubt that he would even go so far as to double that. Keep in mind the fact that like Marc Boldt, David Madore sees himself as being on a mission from God, and he views himself only as a servant when it comes to the issue of his money. (He has told me this personally.)

Money is of course, an important aspect of politics. But as shown locally in the Tanner/Mielke race, it’s not just money… It’s what you do with it that can make all the difference.

Over in the Virginia, a complete political unknown who was outspent roughly 40 to 1 or 50 to 1 or so defeated the sitting U.S. House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor. (Rep. Dave Brat)

Much of Madore’s electoral outcome is going to depend on his messaging, and the impacts of the overwhelmingly negative earned media that he’ll receive.

It is realistic to expect that the Columbian newspaper will spend every day until the election doing everything they can to make sure that Madore loses.  Of course, that doesn’t mean he will… But that certainly won’t stop them from trying.

While that is a problem for him, it’s obviously not a fatal issue; the fact is that the Columbian’s circulation is extremely small relative to the rest of the county, and taking it a step further, people are generally not robots and are not likely to be swayed any more than they were in the 2012 election by the multiple Columbian hit pieces and character assassination that they typically engage in.

With his war chest, Madore can do just about anything he chooses when it comes to the issue of messaging; he has unlimited abilities to go up on TV and radio, he can pretty much define any or all of those running against him any way that he would like.

Of course, that will lead to the inevitable charges that he is “buying his seat”.

If that were in fact the realistic observation, then Joe Tanner would be a Commissioner.

That leaves us Tom Mielke.  Tom seems to be much more active on the fund raising front.

One of the largest indicators of that is the fact that Tom has gone out and started working really hard to raise money. He’s put together $21,560, including max contributions from Ken Fisher and Fisher’s wife of Fisher investments, totaling $3800.  That puts him at around $3000 less than he raised for the entirety of his 2012 race already.

As a result, there is likelihood that where this money came from… There’s more to be had.

Overall, and ultimately, the race is likely to boil down to one of the three current County counselors that want the job.

On one hand, Jeannie Steward’s gender and her studious manner combined with the perception of her moderating influence on the other two makes her one of the favorites to win the election. However, unlimited money and the motivation to use it by David Madore certainly make him a formidable opponent as well.

What’s problematic here is the issue of messaging, since essentially, all three of the current counselors cancel each other out when it comes to the issue of the hottest button in the County still today: the CRC.

For example, all 3 fought the CRC and light rail project essentially for a decade. The end result of that is a tendency to cancel each other out when the voters are viewing the situation in terms of who is most likely to look out for the best interests of the people of this County.

On the surface at least, I don’t see the race between the Republicans getting close to anything that you could call “nasty”. I anticipate a veneer of civility for the view from the outside. As the days start winding down and we get closer to election, that thin curtain of civility may dissipate. But of the candidates for this race, David Madore is the only one that can do frequent polling to strengthen those views that resonate the most around the county, while staying away from those foibles that have, as of this point, caused him so much grief.

Dalesandro will likely make an effort to play the spoiler role, and since he’s got nothing to lose as his chances are winning are relatively slim, I expect him to come out with his guns blazing, firing all the artillery he can bring to bear. The problem with that approach is that there simply aren’t enough Democrats in this county to elect Dalesandro even as Dalesandro fails to tack right to try and gain a few independent and left-leaning Republican votes.

I mention this primarily because Dalesandro’s role in all of this could be to kamikaze the election. Like any other flying explosive device, if he hits the target properly it can cause a great deal of damage.

His involvement in this election, essentially, is not to win it… Since there’s very little chance of that happening. This is an exercise in raising his name awareness so that somewhere down the road, when the time comes, he actually can run for higher office with at least some expectation of actually winning it…. Slight to be sure.

The only thing I’m relatively sure of at this point is the Dalesandro’s entrance into the race kills any chance of any kind that Marc Boldt had of even making it to the general, let alone winning.  And that is going to be an extremely tough and permanent nut for Marc to swallow.

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