Friday, August 05, 2011

What did you think about the election?

People want to keep the Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds won by 71%. That is an overwhelming response. Some tried to argue that we should not clutter the Charter with mundane issues. People were not swayed by that argument. Emily Evans laid that argument to rest in a recent column where she explained that the fairgrounds is already addressed in the Charter and the Charter already establishes the rules governing the fairgrounds. Therefore, it is appropriate to modify the rules governing the fairgrounds by amending the Charter. Most people were probably not exposed to Evans argument, but they just knew it was wrong to take such an important part of our community and identity and destroy it to create another soulless office park, or whatever the mayor had plans to build there. The win for the fairgrounds was major repudiation of the Mayor's leadership.

Being a Republican is not the Kiss of Death. There was a time in Nashville, when no one running for public office would dare admit to being a Republican. The Civil War was a long time ago and few people are still holding a grudge because the Union Army occupied Nashville once upon a time. Times have changed. Republican supported candidates and self-identified Republican candidates did very well. Two of the races I were most involved in were that of Robert Duvall and Duane Dominy, both strongly identified as Republicans. Duane last year ran for a State House seat as a Republican.  Also, Karen Bennett, who is on the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Republican Party won in her district. Other candidates identified as Republicans such as Charlie Tygert, Sheri Weiner , Josh Stites and Dave Patterson, either won their seat or made it into a run-off. 

The power of incumbency is hard to overcome. Look at the five at-large races.  Every one of the incumbents was reelected!  I did not expect that. I honestly expected Megan Barry and Tim Garrett to win without a runoff and I thought we would then have a run-off for the other three seats. In addition to the other incumbents, Ronnie Stein, Jerry Maynard, and Charlie Tygard, I thought Eric Crafton and Ken Jakes, would make the run-off and maybe Vivian Wilhoite or Renard Francois. I was really pulling for Eric Crafton and Ken Jakes. Eric came in, in sixth place but yet there were over 4,000 votes separating him and the fifth place winner.  With 18 candidates in the at-large race, it is amazing that all five incumbents could meet the 10% threshold and win without a runoff. If you look at the other races, most of the races where an incumbent was challenged, the incumbents won. Only in district 16 where Tony Tenpenny eked out a victory over Anna Page and district 30 where Jim Hodge barely lost to challenger Jason Potts did incumbents lose reelection bids.

The Mayor’s opposition may help one's election efforts. Look at Robert Duvall, Duane Dominy and Jason Holleman. In these three races the mayor went the extra mile to help the challenger. He sent out mailers touting the accomplishment in those districts, picturing himself with the challenger and attempted to give credit for the accomplishments to the challenger. I think this backfired big time. In the case of Duane Dominy, the Mayor attempted to give credit for a 4-way stop sign getting installed at a dangerous intersection to Dominy's opponent. Channel 4 called his hand on it and told the truth saying that Dominy's opponent was at none of the Traffic and Parking Commission meetings advocating for the stop sign and Dominy was there doing so. They showed constitutes thanking Duane for his effort in getting the stop sign installed and expressing unhappiness with the Mayor's effort to distort the facts. Dominy got face-time on TV making his case. Dominy's appearance as the lead story on the evening news gave him much more exposure than the Mayor's mailing gave Dominy's opponent. It is hard to estimate the value of being the lead story on the evening news. 

The same thing happened in Robert Duvall's district where the Mayor tried to give credit for the Antioch fire hall to Duvall's opponent. Maybe the best think that can happen to boost one's reelection is have the Mayor's opposition.

I am glad Jerry Graves lost. I am glad he was clobbered, not that I liked the incumbent, but I disliked Jerry Graves.

I am glad Holleman won and glad he won handily.  Lodge had the Mayor, the former Governor and lots of people from out of state and people with big name and big money behind her campaign. This was a race between two liberal democrats but Jason Holleman dared disagree with the Mayor on some issues and the Mayor came after him with a vengeance. Also, the more traditional faction of the Democratic Party was supporting Holleman and the Jeff Yarbro progressives were lined up behind Holleman. I am delighted Holleman won.  

The Mayor has been weakened. The mayor had some wins and some losses, but he did not get a rubber stamp council. He will probably not be able to destroy the fairgrounds. If, in the future, he runs for Governor or Senator, he will be running with less of an aura of invincibility.

Constituent Service may be the most important factor in getting elected to Council. I heard a very conservative Republican lady say she was voting for an incumbent who is a Democrat and voting against the Republican challenger, because the incumbent was responsive when she had complaints and he always returned her phone calls promptly. I still think, more important than a candidates position on taxes, or the fairgrounds, or the convention center, or one's political identity, is the record of constituent service or how a voter thinks a candidate will provide constituent service.

Zoning matters are important. On zoning matters, people want someone who will listen to the wishes of the community and hold lots of community meetings and work to find solutions to community objections to zoning proposals. Voters want someone who will fill the potholes and get 4-way stop signs at dangerous intersections and show up to commensurate when the neighborhood is flooded and pitch in cleaning up after the flood. They want someone who will answer his phone and return a phone call the same day he is called. Nothing beats being approachable, responsive, working hard and providing constituent service.

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