Sunday, May 12, 2013

Election Wrap: Over Before It Began

Congratulations to Laura Maczka, Richardson's next mayor.

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

Amir Omar was warned that if he supported direct election of the mayor, then he wouldn't win re-election. Well, he did and he didn't. He was probably doomed in January, 2012, when he stood alone, among seven council members, in not going along with killing talk of a charter change. He was certainly doomed when Alan North gathered enough petition signatures to get a charter change on the November ballot. Fair or not, Omar got tied to that, too.

Omar was probably doomed whether he sought the newly-created mayor's seat or if instead he tried to find an open seat in the game of musical chairs that resulted from the charter change. It really didn't matter. It's just that hard to win election in Richardson without the support of the establishment, a.k.a. the Richardson Coalition PAC, which has gone 15 for 15 in city council election campaigns in Richardson since 2009. Omar went for the gold ring, not because it was reachable, but because he had no viable options. In for a dime, in for a dollar.

Now, I could be wrong here. There were rumors that the Richardson Coalition PAC was willing to let bygones be bygones and support Omar for another council seat, if Omar would agree not to challenge Laura Maczka for mayor. If that rumor is true, then Omar badly misjudged the electorate and shares the blame for being on the outside looking in now. In any case, Mayor Amir Omar wasn't meant to be. It was over before it began.

The above explains when the race was over. It doesn't explain how it went down. More on that in future posts.


Andy Gross (You are welcome name nazis) said...


So I guess you don't want people standing up for the things they believe in? That is how I am parsing your comments. Interesting.... and illuminating at the same time.

In any case, enjoy it. I'll be moving to Austin soon. This was my last election to vote for in Richardson. I've lived and worked in and around the city for 15 years (10 spent living in the city proper).

There goes another high paying tech job. The median age in Richardson will go up another .1%. I was thinking of perhaps renting my current house.... but you know that whole iron fist on renters kind of makes me not want to do that.

Peace out.

Mark Steger said...

Good question, Andy Gross. My comments were only meant to say that, from the beginning, Amir Omar had little or no chance of winning. Whether or not he should have run anyway is another question, one that I didn't address.

Good luck in Austin. It's a great city.

mccalpin said...

In the days before the election, I noticed that two different neighbors had Amir Omar yard signs on my street. So what? Well, the neighbors to the south are die-hard Tea Partiers and the neighbors to the north are liberal Democrats. Politically, they have nothing in common, except - perhaps, and even this isn't a sure thing - a disdain for the Richardson Coalition.

What would have happened had Mr. Omar won? How could he have kept this "coalition" (pardon the phrase) together? The answer is that he couldn't have. The Tea Partiers may have liked his idea to create a special Narcotics squad, but the liberal Democrats probably would prefer education over punishment. And, indeed, the Tea Partiers may have balked at the price tag anyway (estimated by Candidate Maczka at $1 million).

What about the program that Mr. Omar championed to give $10,000 subsidies to people buying their own homes in certain neighborhoods? A liberal Democrat might have viewed this as a reasonable use of government funds, but the Tea Partiers almost certainly would not have - instead, they may have seen it as an attempt by real estate agents to drive up their incomes by increasing the number of houses sold in Richardson.

In short, one group would have asked Mr. Omar to increase programs and spending, and the other group would have violently resisted it. The coalition would have fallen apart in pretty short order.

And since Mr. Omar would have had no consensus on the Council - after all, every other Council member had publicly endorsed Laura Maczka - it's not hard to imagine that he could have been left with virtually no base to fall back on. He didn't have the "center" - the moderates who support the Coalition - and he would eventually and inescapably offend one end of the spectrum or another, since they are diametrically opposed to each other.

They say that politics makes strange bedfellows, but this is one case in which Mr. Omar may have been better off to lose the race - although he may not feel that way at the moment - rather than win and have no way to make his different constituencies happy at the same time.


Mark Steger said...

Interesting analysis, Bill. Amir Omar is a unique politician, one that is hard to characterize on most axes. That could have been both a strength and a weakness, but on balance, it turned out to be an overall weakness as it pertains to winning elections (he lost big). You may be right that it would have been a weakness after the election, too, if he had somehow managed to win. But that's an alternative universe in which a lot of assumptions would have to be rethought.

mccalpin said...

Oh, yes, if Mr. Omar had actually won, it would have been because he had captured a certain percentage of the center. This would have allowed him the possibility of building a coalition with the center and one extreme or the other (but not both).

But the conflict would have eventually occurred anyway, and it can't be known what the results of the conflict would have been. Certainly, if he had captured a good portion of the moderates, he would have had a year or more to build for the 2015 election...but he didn't. As you note, he underestimated the influence of the Coalition.

Indeed, even I estimated that Ms. Maczka would get 60% to 65% of the early vote, and she ended up getting 74%...I don't think anyone foresaw the size of her victory...