Thursday, May 31, 2007

an election in the fall?

Most have seen the news that there will be a Republican on the ballot for mayor of the City of Pittsburgh this fall. Some stray thoughts:

Mark Desantis has an inaugural interview in the Post Gazette today. He starts out on a bad note for me just because he starts out on day one by throwing out baseless myths as indisputable facts. Of course he is not the first, and certainly won't be the last, politician to make up some data to make a point. But note his quote that "We're losing jobs." Really? Is he talking about jobs in the city? If so it's just not true. Population in the city is going down for sure, but not jobs. You don't get to mix and match data like that. (to be balanced, tomorrow I will ping on an exhortation of a Democratic politician that is in the news today).

An interesting question is why this was such a stealth campaign, especially near the end? He could easily have submitted petitions for the nomination and start the earned media train that much earlier. I would put good money that part of it was intentional. What it did was blunt any effort to get others to write in LR's name on the ballot. From the news, LR did in fact get 294 write in votes on the Republican side, which means if nobody else was running, he would have been nominated on both tickets. If they knew this was coming early enough, I bet it would have been easy enough to get a few hundred supporters to switch parties just to write in LR, but that didn't happen. It could also have been a sign they were not confident they could pull this off . By never 'officially' announcing a campaign they could say they didn't fail if it didn't work.

Can he win is probably not the right question, he seems a bright enough fellow to know that isn't going to happen. Here is a map of straight Democratic ticket voting in the last general election. If that pattern holds, it means a Republican challenger would have to win 70+% of the remaining vote in the city to win. I think the mayor could be in jail in November and still get enough votes to win. I suspect Desantis will do better than Joe Weinroth did last time around just because he will get a combination of support from those few actual Republicans in town along with any protest vote by those who are upset there was no opposition in the primary. The 2005 returns imply that Joe just got the former.

Do you have to be a glutton for punishment to run for Mayor of the city as a Republican. Not necessarily. This fellow did just earn himself more free publicity than he would ever get on his own. The media feels obliged to give equal time.. so just as Joe Weinroth went from unknown to perpetually itinerant media guest overnight, I suspect the same will happen this time around. That has not always been the case. The series of Republican nominees for mayor over the years has been a curiously diverse group: men and women, lawyers and philosophers, de facto Democrats and hard core Republicans. Can you name the last 6 Republican nominees for Mayor?

Speaking of Republicans running for office. Anyone else note the short blurb on former Freemarkets CEO Glen Meakam's remarks at the African American Chamber of Commerce. From the PG he is reported to have said:
"This blood in our streets is the ultimate evidence that the economic policies of the state of Pennsylvania are just not working"
Think someone is running for governor? but according to the PG he also "framed his questions within the context of the region's continuing loss of population.....". I really just give up. He may not be the first politician to play up the population numbers, but when does this end.


Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

We should set up an over/under pool for DeSantis. I predict 25 percent. Maybe 30 percent.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

well... that would be a little rude doing it as an over/under don't you think.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 2:10:00 PM  
Blogger Skip said...

chris, i've come to the conclusion that the political process, unfortunately, and policy-making, specifically, gives science or a reasonable interpretation of data a very small role. the polarity between science and rhetoric has been on my mind for a few years and i'm starting to be convinced that the rhetorical side of the spectrum, political craft and leadership, plays a stronger role. it is frustrating though to see this particular display of rhetorical blathering. especially since you've put out some very careful analysis on a number of local issues.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 2:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the "blood in the streets" comment was in reference to the fact that Philadelphia now has the highest black-on-black murder rate in the nation--and he was speaking to the African American Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 4:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke could be in jail in November?! What else are you hearing?

Thursday, May 31, 2007 8:41:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

oh great.. trying to get me in trouble eh? Someone will take that statement seriously you know.

anon 8:41(our time that is): does your old email work?

Thursday, May 31, 2007 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I missed skip's comments. I was going to ask if I am blathering, but I know the answer to that. but are you refering to my blathering or that of the talking heads.

I don't disagree with your position on that actually. I am under no illusion that objective analysis drives much of anything here or elsewhere. I have my own set of funny stories from my brief time in DC to here. In DC if you write something, you have to do the report, the summary, the executive summary and even then a distinct 'Senator summary'.. in rank order of terseness and the last is the level at which most issues are publicly debated.

But it does remind me of a story I heard once of some poor mathmatician asking for some research money from congress to work on 'Complex Analysis' only to be questioned by some representative as to whether he could work on 'simple' analysis with less money. I hope that story is apocryphal, but I am not so sure it is.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Russell said...

I think the value of Null Space is a better informed polity. Politicians pander to their constituency, as I think they should. If citizens demonstrate a more sophisticated understanding of the issues, they will get better policy.

I get worried when information brokers such as the Post-Gazette get the demographic story wrong and add to the misinformation driving public interest. Thus, I'm not surprised when politicians play up brain drain and city shrink. The problem may be a figment of the voter's imagination, but that's how she or he will speak at the polls.

Friday, June 01, 2007 1:32:00 PM  

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