September 23, 2013

Mum Festival highlights political differences

1st District City Council rivals Eric Carlson, an incumbent Republican, and Calvin Brown, a Democratic challenger.
The Mum Festival showed off the differing strategies of the city's Republicans and Democrats this year.
At the festival on Saturday, only one Democrat, City Council hopeful Calvin Brown, had a serious showing. He had a booth along the boulevard, just up the way from my own beloved Youth Journalism International's little outpost.
The Republicans, on the other hand, were busy serving up corn chowder and gladhanding with anyone who'd come near them. All of them were around and many of them volunteered for a stint in a dunking booth that raised more than $400 for a soup kitchen in town. A few of those dollars were mine, I admit, because it was kind of fun to see incumbents Councilors Henri Martin, Derek Czenczelewski and Ken Cockayne get plunged into the water over and over. (The only Democrat to get wet was former city Chairman Elliot Nelson, who was there in his capacity as a top organizer of the festival.)
So the GOP was quite visible all day on Saturday.
Aside from Brown, I only spotted one other Democratic candidate, mayoral hopeful Chris Wilson made a quick visit to check things out and say hey.
The Democrats weighed what to do Saturday and decided their time was better spent knocking on the doors of known voters in their own districts instead of making a splash at the festival, where most of the people wandering around were unlikely to cast a vote in November. They figured making connections with a smaller number of people with a greater likelihood of showing up at the polls made more sense.
At the Mum Parade on Sunday, the same dynamics were clear, but the Democrats were there, walking with the multitudes. It wasn't quite a last second decision, but they were clearly not as into the whole thing nearly as deeply as the GOP, as Cockayne's mum float and orange balloons showed.
Who made the right call? Who knows? The Democrats are running a quieter campaign in general, aimed quite specifically at picking up votes one by one until they reach the numbers they need to win. It's pretty sophisticated, from what I hear, and has the possible advantage of catching the GOP by surprise.
Republicans are also knocking on doors, of course, and making calls and such. But they're running a more traditional style campaign, as the growing number of orange Cockayne signs on lawns across town makes clear.
GOP council hopeful Jim Albert and Republican city Councilor Derek Czenczelewski at the Mum Festival. They make up hte GOP's 3rd District slate.

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