Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Congratulations Harvey Johnson

Congratulations to Harvey Johnson, who won a third term yesterday at the polls. It was a hard-fought race and soon-to-be-Mayor Johnson did all the right things in crushing Mr. Crisler. I predicted he would win 60% of the vote and I wasn't too far off as he received 63%. To put in even better perspective, Johnson was roughly 2,000 votes shy of doubling Crisler's votes. It was an ass-whupping no matter how you slice and dice it. And yes, I voted for Harvey.

Some random thoughts about the election:

All over Northeast Jackson last night there were gasps of shock as people couldn't believe Crisler lost so badly after so much money was poured into his candidacy. However, local elections are never just about money. While the money train works at the statewide level and above, it only goes so far at the municipal level. Money poorly spent can't overcome demographics, a machine already in place, and boots on the ground that will get out the vote.

Crisler not a good candidate
To put it mildly, Crisler was not a good candidate. He had no experience whatsoever managing a budget, much less one of $350 million. He has been a street-level cop for over 15 years. He served in the military and saw combat but that is still no substitute for experience in running a business or government agency. The city council is weak by design, making it hard for a would-be mayor to gain the executive experience needed to run a city. What is ironic is the businessmen who were touting his abilities as a candidate even though he had no applicable experience would never hire him to replace themselves in their businesses.

If anything, Crisler has been a follower, not a leader. When interviewed by the Jackson Free Press, he favored commuter or occupational taxes. When suddenly supported by the business community, he stood against them. He never rose to a top position in the Hinds County Sheriff's office. He could never mention any real accomplishments showing what he could do as a Mayor. David Watkins can point to his projects. Harvey Johnson can rattle off statistics and little factoids about his previous service as Mayor. Beverly Hogan can mention her landing the Civil Rights Museum for Tougaloo as well as what has happened at Tougaloo under her tenure. LeRoy Walker has his track record as a businessman. Mr. Crisler has years of service in government but what was actually accomplished?

Money, money, money
Another lesson about the race is the role of money. Money is the lifeblood of any campaign and the Crisler campaign was rolling in the dough as they outspent Harvey more than 4:1. However, the campaign made critical mistakes. First, they brought in a campaign manager from out of state who was last seen running Gary Anderson's campaign, a campaign known for its ineptness. It seemed the campaign had no control over surrogates or those who didn't want to see Harvey win. The money was spent like an Obama bailout: money thrown at everything while nothing is actually accomplished.

The campaign should have been prepared for the issue of Crisler's 2000 bankruptcy but oddly enough didn't deal with it as they hoped no one would notice. They ignored a fundamental rule of electoral politics: if there is a public record with your candidate's name on it, it will be found by the opponent or the media. Crisler ignored changes to appear in the media in friendly venues. He bought two days on a local radio talk show this week then backed out at the last minute. Apparently the prospect of answering a tough question scared them off as the Crisler camp preferred settings where their baby boy wouldn't get hurt. Fox40 wanted to interview him about his goals and policies in detail. It was meant to be friendly and not "gotcha" journalism. He wasn't interested. As the campaign wore on, Crisler looked more and more managed and not his own man.

The money people failed to realize several things. One is that by donating so much money to Crisler, they became the targets and Crisler suffered for it. They figured they could just dump a bunch of money as they do for a typical Republican candidate with little notice. Unfortunately, more than a few noticed. Crisler never appeared to be his own man as did Melton when he raised over $600,000. Melton rolled in the dough but never gave the impression he was managed by others. They should have copied a trick from Jim Evans, racist extraordinaire, and funneled the money to Crisler through a bunch of people in amounts of $200 or less (which doesn't get reported).

The Better Jackson PAC was a perfect example of this thinking. While others can ruminate over their filing issues and grand conspiracies, what is interesting is how the PAC's money was spent. Circulars and ads. Nothing for a get out the vote effort. Nothing to get voters to the polls or phone banks. Harvey had a machine designed to get out the vote, Crisler's was designed to get out a message. Messages are nice but don't always translate into votes. Republicans make fun of the buses but the point is, the buses are carrying votes.

If I was advising Crisler, I would have made the following recommendations:
1. Run for Congress last year even though you will lose. The goal is not to win but instead use the race as a dress rehearsal. Meet the voters. Learn the district. Get the name out there. Learn what works and doesn't work. Apply those lessons to the Mayoral election.

2. Hire a local campaign manager, someone who knows the players, the hot buttons, and what the big no-no's are. Hire someone who wins at machine politics and actually has a winning track record. Resumes don't lie.

3. Push for some major reforms or legislation while on the City Council even if you lose. Show yourself as a fighter. Jeff Weill has assumed the role of government watchdog in less than two years, something Crisler has never done in eight. Doing so would have built up his "street cred" and gained him respect from the voters.

4. You lost. Politicians lose races and recover from them all of the time. Harvey lost to Ditto. Reagan lost to Ford. Mac lost to McAdory. You can recover from this and win. State Representative Wooten will be running for re-election in two years. Its your ward, you can win this race. Take a few months off, then start working to run for that office. You lost the Mayor's race. Learn from it. Go out and beat her as she has not exactly set the world on fire since she unseated Reeves.

Just some rambling unsophisticated musings after enduring yet another election season. Feel free to discuss or fire away. I'll probably add some more to this post as I think of them.


Anonymous said...

A 100% perfect and totally accurate assessment of the mayor's cmpaign that ended yesterday. Totally true. I cant think of a thing of significance that you left out.

Kingfish said...

I didn't get into the turnout. 30,000 votes or so was impressive.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that HJ's people assumed (incorrectly) that MC would turn out the white voters in droves, near to or equal what came out in the primary. Not to MC's credit, but close to that number of white voters did turn out. However, HJ's workers INCREASED the numbers that turned out in a great many of the black precincts, to buffer the feared Crisler white turnout. And as you have already said, the contested run-offs in the primaries for Wards 2, 4, 5, and 6 helped drive black turnout even more. Much of the advice you wrote about was given to Crisler and his staff, but ignored.

Jane said...

Kinda funny that the vaunted Bennie Thompson machine did not do better for Eddie Fair. Is it because the man behind that machine is John Horhn's father and he was working for his son?

Kingfish said...

I'm not surprised.

They reminded me of the Terrell-Landrieau race where Bushco sent the DC consultants down to run her campaign and they made every mistake possible and used their little themes dreamed up in the ivory DC tower and had no clue as to how to win a local race.

Crisler could've used the BK to his advantage:

"I've been earning a regular paycheck for years just like most Jacksonians. I haven't been living the good life but have been working hard with my wife and trying to make Jackson a better place in the mean time. Our child got real sick and we got nailed by medical bills just as have many other families in Jackson. I can relate to the other Jacksonians because I've been where they have been, I know how they feel, I've been broke and know what it is like to pick which bills to pay, something not all of my supporters will understand but I understand what people are going through right now because I've been there."

But no, couldn't do it.

Anonymous said...

I think you wrote a great summary!

Anonymous said...

Over at the rag, ladd will profess to know as much as you did about Crisler's campaign. You know, because of the numerous conversations she had with Crisler. But, the truth is your assement is based on facts and hers is guess work. There was more behind the scenes stuff that you didn't touch on; but they will leak out in time.

Kingfish said...

I know. I don't pretend to know any better or have any special info. I'm just opining based on what I saw as an interested observor.

I'm sure within the next few weeks I'll hear the whole story.

Watched a Barbour race closely one time. Suckers had every damn precinct mapped out, accounted for, and checked on election day.

Anonymous said...

Great summary, KF. Crisler was definitely a weak candidate from day one.

Anonymous said...

Crisler was definitely a weak candidate from day one.

And, sadly, too many voters in Ward 1 proved equally not up to the task from the sound of the same starting gun.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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