Yesterday’s column analyzing the local races drew some interesting responses both on and off the site. I was reminded that money is not the only variable for determining who wins election. I agree. I was reprimanded for not looking more deeply into the races.
As I was told off line, “[A] conscientious American voter, how can you choose wisely by ignoring someone that is more capable of good choices…”
As I was told in a comment, “Do you, David, recall Julie Partansky, John Munn and some others…who WON due to the fact that they were NOT beholden to the special interests. MOST of the ones with the BIG warchests get them by BUYING ads in newspapers and schmoozing with the media…..people in the media and developers are the ones who have a VESTED interest in many of the things that you personally support… they then give MONEY to those who will repay their investments….”
One of my favorite comments was, “One sees the TYPICAL LIBERAL slant, while Dave Greenwald DISMISSES the REPUBLICAN Schaup, for BEiNG a Republican…. and his FAILURE to bring up that DODD was a REPUBLICAN for most of HIS career and when he could NOT win against Mariko Yamada, he CHANGED parties….and then went up against Dan Wolk and Don Saylor…..”
Let me take the last point first, since it is easy to dismiss. Charlie Schaupp is a Republican running in a district that is about 65 percent or so Democratic. That means that, while he might finish in the top two in the primary as he did in 2014, he’s not going to win, barring something really unforeseen. So if I’m dismissing his chances, it’s because of the demographics and party identification in the district.
Bill Dodd was a Republican in 2012 and (Correction: Bill Dodd’s campaign said that he did not support Mitt Romney as previously reported – he supported Obama in 2008 and 2012). He then changed parties and ran for Assembly, knocking off Democrats Dan Wolk and Joe Krovoza (not Don Saylor who is running this time). He has been an Assemblymember for a year and a half.
Some people are bothered by him being a former Republican. Some aren’t. My assessment of the race is that he is the prohibitive favorite, and that’s independent of whether or not I’m going to vote for him or Mariko Yamada.
I do agree with those who point to a Julie Partansky, who was able to win on a shoestring budget. While the recent campaigns of Joe Krovoza and Robb Davis and Brett Lee had more money spent on their behalf, I think they won those campaigns on the ground.
This is the most important takeaway message here – money, especially in a small town like Davis is not necessarily decisive. But as I pointed out to some via email, you can have the best ideas in the world and, if you cannot get those ideas to the voters, you will not win.
One way to get those ideas to the voters is to have a lot of money and buy ads, send out mailers, and saturate the voters with your message. Another way to get those ideas to the voters is to organize, have the people power to walk and knock on every door. You can win that way, but it takes a lot of work, effort, and support to do so.
Again, I think Joe, Brett, and Robb won because of those kinds of efforts.
But money is still a factor. As big a supporter base as someone like Bernie Sanders has, he has been competitive because he has raised $220 million. He was able to translate that grassroots support into money through the collection of millions, in small increments for the most part.
Money matters in another way as well. In the case of Dan Wolk – we expect that he has powerful contacts through his mother, his support from 2014, and the prospect of him winning in 2016. So when we see him struggling to raise money, that is something that we flag. It may not make a difference and it may not mean what we think it means, but it is notable and something to watch. Despite that struggle, we still pick him to be a finalist, so there is that as well.
Finally, I want to talk about the Vanguard itself. We are an alternative media source. We have a good sized audience these days and we have an open invitation to allow candidates to submit op-eds. That’s a way they can tap into our audience and get their message out.
Some campaigns have utilized this. Others have not. That’s fine. But the opportunity is there and the offer stands.
The council race was always going to be an uphill battle for Matt Williams. As one person writes, “Matt Williams’ potential contributions to improving the city are not getting much attention. He’s got good ideas, he’s very bright and perceptive about city issues.”
The problem that Matt has, and I think he would be the first to acknowledge it – he has not built the campaign organization to walk and knock at every door. He has not been able to take advantage of the free media offers and engage the public.
It may be that, even if he had done that, facing two incumbents and a strong challenger in Will Arnold, it would not have been enough. But we will never know.
Will Arnold is a formidable force. That was driven home when he announced and had a huge crowd show up, most of whom have not been engaged in the community. And let’s give Will Arnold credit, he’s lived in the community, he has worked on behalf of the Blue and White Foundation, he has served on commissions like Parks and Rec, he has worked on the water measure and two council campaigns – he has done more than most people when they throw their hat in the ring.
Will that make him a good councilmember? I think we’re about to find out. Is he being a little more vanilla than I would like? Absolutely. But right now, I think he’s going to finish first, unless something changes in the last month.
I will add this point at the end, I am very concerned that the Davis City Council race has not gotten more interest in the community, because I think most people are unaware just how precarious things are for the city right now and I think this council is going to have to deal with some pretty severe problems.
—David M. Greenwald reporting