Election Lessons from the Hudson
New Orleans It’s a small sample, but the Virginia bellwether and the deeply blue state New Jersey went hard Republican and in Jersey tossed a Democratic governor looking for a second shot. Across the river, New York City voters surprised the chattering political classes by almost moving Mayor Bloomberg to his next career as a philanthropist and out of his current posting as a semi-politician. A couple of thoughts crossed my mind.
* Voter slaps at Corzine and Bloomberg have a populist anti-Wall Street and decidedly, “money-can’t-buy-my-vote” cast to them for two rich guys willing to spend whatever it takes, particularly the record setting $90M outlay by Mayor Bloomberg in his very close race.
* Unions need to listen to their members more and to political pros and consultants less. It’s embarrassing to know that two huge NYC political players, SEIU and UFT/AFT, took a walk on this election. Their members didn’t. Controller Thompson, the challenger, romped with African-Americans and voters making less than $100,000 both of which are heavily represented by those two unions. Had they not been twiddling thumbs on the sidelines, this race would have been even closer and might have sent a message against big money politics that could reverberate around the country.
* The Working Families Party of New York is once again a HUGE winner this election! WFP was vocal from the first blush against the 3rd term effort and said so unabashedly. They refused Bloomberg access to their line, despite persistent pressure. Not having the WFP doing turnout hurt the Mayor, and having them do turnout for Thompson dramatically helped him bring the race close. Big, WOW, here with props for Danny Cantor and all of the WFP team!
* What are the progressive forces going to do without the GOTV and registration work in the community which ACORN has indicated it is unlikely to play in 2010 and beyond? It was wild to read the pre-election right turnout scare tactics using ACORN as the boogieman. A DC spokesperson for ACORN said they were not even involved anywhere in this race in New Jersey, and despite all of the strum and dang, ACORN had no base or operations in the NY-23rd race. Turnout was low and decidedly down among minorities and youth. The more one reads and studies this rightwing ideological attack the smarter and more effective it seems, if its main purpose was to help level the playing field by successfully pushing one of the players off the field.
And, yes, none of this was about Obama, but all politics is local and the President will get the message. According to the New York Times, Bloomberg was effective in putting the President and his people to the sidelines with a head fake and some bluster, and Thompson’s work as the standard bearer for the Democrats could seen a different storyline with real White House help rather the shrinking back, timidity that came with riding the donkey in New York. What’s up with that?!?
If I were in one of the President’s men, I would be getting an apology together (and maybe offering my resignation!), because this is a huge wakeup call from the base, and it needs to be heard clearly without putting more sugar in this sad cup of coffee.