The privateer captained by Alan North has goaded the flagship of Richardson's establishment to enter the fray of battle. The Richardson Coalition PAC fired a broadside against North. The Coalition PAC's weapon of choice was its powerful email list. In a Tuesday email, the Coalition PAC campaigned against North's effort to secure enough signatures on his petition to force a referendum and bring about the direct election of the mayor by amending the Richardson city charter.
After the jump, a damage assessment.
It's unlikely that the Coalition PAC's salvo has slowed North's effort, let alone sunk it.
The appearance of the Coalition PAC in the fight at all is a sign of weakness. The establishment must be worried that the petition will succeed or else there would be no need to call attention to the matter.
The lateness of the Coalition PAC's entry into the fray may be the second mistake by the establishment in this affair. The first was when the city council itself lost control of the process when it voted in February to deep six the proposal to appoint a charter review commission. Now, after the needed signatures on the petition are rumored to have already been collected, it's too late for the Coalition PAC to influence the signature collection process.
That leaves the November election itself as the last line of defense for the establishment. Expect to hear the Coalition PAC make the case to vote "no". There are good and sound reasons for that. There are also good reasons to distrust the shadowy figures behind the petition drive, who seem unwilling to answer questions about themselves or their petition drive. Expect to hear a lot about that from the Coalition PAC, too.
It remains to be seen what kind of election campaign North will mount to get people to vote "yes." He failed to mount any campaign at all in 2011 when he ran for a city council seat. He was such a no-show that some openly wondered if he even existed. So far, his campaign to collect petition signatures has been, not inactive but similarly faceless, even secretive. This is a mistake on North's part, a mistake he had better not repeat in November's general election. Why give your opponent an opening to make the election about yourself and your secretive methods instead of about the issue at hand? North could answer that, but he's not talking.