A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jono Miller Reflects on Carolyn Mason's Victory

Carolyn Mason's election is a historic first for our county, one for which we may all feel proud. In fact, had Carolyn Mason announced she was running for the District 1 seat last November, I'm not sure I would have filed to run against her -- not because I didn't believe I would have been a superior commissioner, but because I believe our County would be well served with a more diverse commission.  But that's not how things happened -- Carolyn chose to run against me and a few hours ago she won.

I don't think this is the place to explore how I lost, but I am willing to summarize how I think she won. Carolyn is warm and approachable, an experienced campaigner, and she started with 12% advantage in terms of party registration. Add to that her former Mayor name recognition and top of the list ballot placement. It is not widely known, but she hired a very skilled Republican strategist (yet another JM) and was very careful where and how and when she presented herself. She employed an intriguing advertising strategy, a mix of positive personal narrative and negative attack ads, which I suggest elsewhere were dishonest, irresponsible and disrespectful. And while her campaign fundraising was a fraction of mine, large sums of money were spent on her behalf. That's a difficult hand to beat. 

As for me, I had several goals when I filed 300 days ago. Winning, of course was the ultimate goal, but along the way I resolved to:
1) Make sure all voters had a choice in the general election,
2) demonstrate that a Democrat could be competitive in terms of fundraising, endorsements and bi-partisan support,
3) communicate to the public through blogging, and
4) run a clean campaign.

In retrospect, I hit four out of five goals -- I just didn't happen to win.

While I've grown close with most of my 18 fellow Democratic candidates it is probably no surprise that I feel closest to my fellow New College candidates, Keith Fitzgerald, Adam Tebrugge and Ryan Stanley. I sense we all share that desire to win, a desire that is tempered by principle and that principle is that there are more important things than winning. 

On several occasions I was approached with information or strategies to use that I felt were contrary to the pledge I signed for the Civic League. I just couldn't go there. The lyric from Loggins & Messina's Golden Ribbons seemed to sum it up: "What does it avail a man, to gain a fortune and lose his soul?"

In thirty years and, in particular, the last 300 days I have gained some insight into the magnitude of the job of county commissioner. Godspeed Carolyn.

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