A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Yes, those political campaign yard and highway signs can be recycled. I'm talking about those "corrugated" (actually twinwall) plastic signs. They are #5 polypropylene. Take them to the Recycled Plastic Man in Englewood at 530 Paul Morris Dr. (off South River Road). They are open from 7-4 on weekdays. For more on this this topic, see my earlier blog About those plastic campaign signs. . . recyclable? resusable?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
A few weeks out, by many measures, my campaign seemed to be ahead -- whether measured by number of donors, newspaper endorsements, contributions, bi-partisan support, county and regional knowledge, internet presence, forum performance, years of community service, etc. But while the local press obsessed on how much money had come into my campaign in modest amounts of $200 and less, it now appears Republican partisans were quietly assembling a war chest of big donations to defeat me, an amount that may have totaled over $100,000. If confirmed, this means that despite my record-breaking fundraising effort, Carolyn's team actually outspent me.
I'm told the money was not routed through Carolyn Mason's campaign account, but took a more circuitous route that allows the supporters of three candidates to pool advertising resources outside their respective campaign accounts. It is believed that most, if not all, of the money was diverted to support Carolyn Mason, and not the other two members, Marie Nisco and Donna Clarke. The result was a surge of television and radio ads that continually bathed the electorate during the last couple of weeks of the campaign. The ads ran from positive personal narratives to negative attack ads that, according to definitions provided by the Civic League of Sarasota, appear to be dishonest, irresponsible and disrespectful. This is the twin-pronged strategy that drove up both Carolyn's positives and my negatives. Outspent by five or six to one on media, I faced an onslaught that running a clean campaign based on direct mail, signage and personal appearances could not surmount. So I lost.
As far as I can tell, this is the first time a candidate employing negative attack ads has been elected to the Sarasota County Commission. In my opinion, the successful intrusion at the county level of dirty attack-style ads we usually associate with state and national level contests does not bode well for our community.
If you have additional information about the details of this story, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Monday, November 3, 2008
After 2,505 petition forms, 80 blog entries, more than 1,000 contributions, and a half year's foregone salary; my 300 day foray into the world of candidates and campaigns has come to a close. For once, I can type the often-trite saying "Today is the first day of the rest of my life" without fear of contradiction or overstatement. Unless there is a serious malfunction, less than 22 hours from now I'll know if I am about to become a county commissioner or about to create yet another job here in Sarasota County (yes, I do that occasionally).
At this point I'm aware of many of the mistakes I've made as a candidate and still disappointed that at least one of my opponents sought the low road. That, I believe, is a road that is easy to drive, but ultimately lonely. As for me, I've done what I could to run a clean, respectful campaign and overall this has been a very positive, affirming experience replete with new friendships, allies and insights about Sarasota County. And, whatever the outcome, I will fall asleep sometime before the morning of the fifth knowing that when it comes to life's roads; I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
The following was submitted as a possible letter to the Editor by a Jono Miller supporter. It is titled: WITH NEGATIVE POLITICAL PAC ADS, IT IS ANY WONDER THAT SOMEONE OF JONO MILLER'S TALENT RARELY RUNS FOR OFFICE?
As a small business owner and active member of a local community civic association in Sarasota County, I feel compelled to speak out regarding the type of negative, misleading, and mean-spirited PAC ad that is being aired about Jono Miller who is running for Sarasota County Commissioner, District 1.
I have known and worked with Jono on various Sarasota County community issues over the past 20 years and believe that he would be mentioned a list of those that have contributed to the legacy and enviable quality of life that we all enjoy in Sarasota County. From his tireless work in protecting our most valuable natural resources as chairman of Sarasotas Environmental Sensitive Lands Protection Program to addressing important economic and social issues through his leadership with Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence (SCOPE), Jono has consistently demonstrated a rare talent in being able to understand diverse perspectives and find common ground solutions. This talent is often missing but is desperately needed in our political deliberations. We are blessed that someone of Jono's character, talent, and proven commitment is willing to consider serving in public office.
The truth is that because of his proven track record in finding common ground solutions, Jono has broad support among both local business and civic leaders in Sarasota County. And throughout his campaign he has consistently stated that his top priorities will include promoting local businesses, keeping talent here, and diversifying our economy. All are essential for our economy and enviable quality of life to be sustainable and thrive in the 21st century.