Election 2009: A couple of thoughts

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Work, homework, laundry, and more have occupied my time the last couple of days. My son is working on a five-paragraph essay for his writing assignment. He decided to write about Saul Alinsky and the ongoing influence of his Rules for Radicals.

(Had a birthday, too. Got a DVD collection of 1960s Peanuts TV specials, which included a documentary about Vince Guaraldi, the brilliant jazz pianist behind the Peanuts soundtracks. Interesting fact: Guaraldi was my age when he dropped dead of a heart attack.)

And as I sit down to write, I hear the nails on a chalkboard sound of CNN's Nancy Grace from the other room. So this may be a bit disjointed.

I'm thrilled with the City Council and City Auditor results. Things went my way in eight of the nine council districts. My candidate won the four contests where the daily paper and I endorsed different candidates (Turner over Patrick, Barnes over Gomez, Mautino over Troyer, and Christiansen over Lakin).

Tom Adelson was hurt by the same thing that hurt Steve Largent in 2002 -- the lack of a serious primary challenge to smooth out the rough edges of the campaign and the candidate. If a populist or more centrist Democrat had challenged Adelson, the alternative might have won the primary, or else Adelson and his campaign would have been improved by the process.

Adelson's mail piece -- showing Reagan, Inhofe, and Coburn, and saying Dewey Bartlett Jr doesn't measure up as a conservative -- was too easy to rebut. The Bartlett Jr campaign could simply put out a recorded phone call with Inhofe praising Bartlett Jr. If you're going to try an ad like that, pick people who are dead and can't contradict the way you use their image and name.

I'm amazed that none of the three candidates ran against Kathy Taylor's record as mayor. Bartlett Jr couldn't, having endorsed her before she stepped aside. But Perkins or Adelson might have, and if they had, there was plenty of news in the course of the last few weeks that would have reinforced an anti-Taylor campaign theme: To name two examples, the high cost of operating the new City Hall, and the mismanagement behind Tulsa's street problems, as revealed the report last week of the Public Works performance review.

Was it an anti-incumbent mood that gave us the first new City Auditor in 21 years and the return of three populist former councilors? Was it a feeling that the current leadership had failed to confront difficult choices, failed to prepare the city for the future, failed to subject public spending to proper scrutiny? For whatever reason, none of the major mayoral candidates gave the voters an outlet for that sentiment in the mayor's race.

It was great fun to be part of the KRMG election night team once again. I was in studio with news director Dan Potter. Paul Crockett was at the KOTV studio, and he relayed results from key precincts via Twitter as runners called them in to KOTV. We were able to call the mayoral result very early, as it became apparent from the key precinct results that, while Bartlett was running slightly behind LaFortune's 2006 numbers, Adelson was far, far behind Taylor's result. Adelson even lagged behind Barack Obama and Andrew Rice's 2008 percentages in those precincts.

Former Mayor Rodger Randle's Twitter feed of results and analysis was a help as well; hope to see it again in the future.

I made two bum calls: (1) My observation of Adelson's yard sign edge in midtown Money Belt precincts led me to believe that Adelson would win narrowly. Yard signs in yards (not just thrown up on the right-of-way) are an indication of support and enthusiasm. The tendency of voters in these predominantly Republican precincts to cross the line in local elections are the reason why this city has had Democratic mayors for all but four of the last 20 years. Despite the yard sign deficit, Bartlett Jr won most of those precincts. (2) I said on Twitter before the polls closed that observers beyond Tulsa shouldn't read a national message into the outcome. Upon reflection, I think Bartlett Jr won precisely by successfully nationalizing the election and hanging Obama around Adelson's neck.

Given that, it's notable that Bartlett Jr didn't have coattails. I looked at most of the results in District 6, and Bartlett Jr was consistently the lowest vote-getter in each precinct of each of the three Republican candidates on the ballot. Typically Preston Doerflinger was the most popular, followed by former-councilor-turned-councilor-elect Jim Mautino, followed by Bartlett Jr.

And now I'm about to fall asleep at the keyboard. More thoughts, maybe, later. Add yours below.

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4 Comments

Bob said:

I came away from the election nite results with an impression of a strong Anti-Incumbent mood among the voters.

Each of the four election nite city council Challengers versus the Establishment-backed incumbents had a decidely underdog and under-financed campaign.

Message was stronger than Money, at least this time.

This being a General Election, we didn't have the Litmus Test of party doctrine as a defining difference between the candidates, like in the Martinsen-Trail race, or the Christiansen-Lakin race.

Finally, Independent Mayoral Candidate Perkins garnering 18% of the total vote was nothing but AMAZING.

It doesn't bode well for the Mayoral victor that more than 55% of voters preferred someone else......

Rural Okie said:

I lived in Tulsa when Young Dewey ran for mayor in 1992. He was the only recognizable name in the big field, but he lost to previously unknown Susan Savage. He had given her good name recognition by running lots of nonsensical negative ads about her. He would have been a sure winner in that race if he hadn't campaigned at all.

Young Dewey's 2009 campaign? Same thing. By all rights, his political career should have ended after the 1992 fiasco. But like Nixon - he's back!

So now Tulsa has a mayor who obtained office by "nationalizing" the election (although Obama wasn't on the ballot) and by trashing his opponent. It's the classic technique of misdirection, and it often works on less discerning voters. But face the fact - Young Dewey's campaign had nothing to do with the job of mayor. I'll be very surprised if he has any clue about what to do once he gets to sit in his new Big Chair. If he has any ideas for "change," he has been keeping them well-hidden. The only talents he has shown so far are for smear and negativity.

Sons of successful politicians often seem to feel pressure to follow in Dad's footsteps. Young Dewey has been trying to get elected to something for his whole life, with only limited success. OK, Son - here's your chance to make your mark.

Young George W felt that pressure too. It didn't work out so well for him - or America. I wish a better result for Tulsa - but I'm not optimistic.

Bob said:

I think the local ruling power establishment will be very happy with Dewey, Jr. at the helm at city hall.

Dewey, Jr. has been regularly selected for important Boards such as the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, GRDA, and TAIT because inheriting as he did a small, oil & gas production company managed by others, he has very little of a real job to actually do, and a lot of spare time to be an over-aged playboy.

He poses little to no risk of any substantive change in the generations old mis-management of city hall.

Bank of Kaiser can rest assured that they'll maintain the $100,000,000's of deposit account relationships with the city and its various authorities and entities, and that they are sole-sourced 100% of the lucrative bond underwriting and Transfer Agent business for all city entities.

The local road construction cartel (Beeco and Sherwood?) will still get the lion's share of the road construction business by bidding on intentionally tiny road bid packages meant to keep the larger, out-of-state road construction companies away.

And, rest assured, local zoning decisions will favor the developers over homeowners, with entities like INCOG, TMUA, and TMAPC populated with development denizens. Always.

In a few years, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court will probably rule that the City illegally mis-applied an expiring BID district to construct the new downtown baseball stadium, and that will blow up in the city administration's face, after the expenditure of $millions in legal fees, of course.

Then, who will pay for the 30-year bonded indebtedness financed at Bank of Kaiser?

Will Bank of Kaiser's General Counsel Fred Dorwart be hired to handle the city's defense for the misapplied BID which provides no direct benefit to the downtown businesses, since he helped create the Stadium Authority and associated renewal of the BID to fund this fallacious mis-adventure?

The Fred Dorwart Full Employment Act of 2008?

Brooksider Author Profile Page said:

Summing up Saul Alinsky in 5 paragraphs is a tough assignment, but I'm happy to see people still reading him, even those who disagree. Good luck to him.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 13, 2009 12:08 AM.

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