Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Election Wrap: Endorsements

Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.

In my opinion (without polling data to back it up), the Richardson Coalition PAC's voters guide, with its bankruptcy/divorce allegations, was the decisive issue in the campaign. The second biggest factor (my rankings are my wild-ass guesses) was religious prejudice, which is hard to measure, especially as public displays of prejudice are outnumbered by privately-held prejudices. The third biggest factor in deciding this election was the list of endorsements Laura Maczka assembled.

There's a school of thought that argues that endorsements shouldn't matter. Sometimes endorsements even have a perverse opposite effect, like the commenter who rejected my own endorsement, saying, "Thanks, I needed help eliminating a choice." But I'm not here to argue whether endorsements *should* matter. In my opinion, they *do* matter, whether you like it or not.

Maczka had the influential Richardson Coalition PAC behind her, as I discussed in earlier blog posts. She had all the incumbent council members in her camp. She had Mayor Bob Townsend and former mayors Gary Slagel, Steve Mitchell and Martha Ritter as well as numerous former council members. She had The Dallas Morning News. Full disclosure: she even had my endorsement, explicitly because of those endorsements by returning council members (I felt the council's own preference for who should be their council leader deserves respect). She had so many endorsements she was able to send a mailer geo-customized for each neighborhood, featuring a nearby prominent civic leader (council member, former council member or mayor, HOA president, etc.) saying something nice about Maczka.

On the other side, Amir Omar had the fire fighters, the police, and the realtors. Not too shabby there, but Maczka dismissed those as "unions" and "special interests" (despite welcoming those same endorsements in 2011). In the end, Omar's endorsements were no match for Maczka's.

She had such an impressive array of endorsements that, even if the Richardson Coalition PAC had put out a fair and balanced voters guide, even if there hadn't been a whisper campaign about religion poisoning the atmosphere, I think it can be argued that Maczka could still have won the election based solely on her endorsements. Instead the Richardson Coalition PAC adopted a campaign of overkill. Not satisfied with just playing up Maczka's positives, not satisfied with just winning, it was as if they were out to destroy Amir Omar personally. I know it's been said that politics is a blood sport, but I always thought of that as meaning people will do anything to win. Now, I have to expand the definition to people going beyond what's needed to win solely in order to destroy others. That's one behavior that I cannot endorse.

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