Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Where are we at?

Perhaps it's time to take a minute to assess where the mayoral candidates stand. A lot can change in the next six weeks, but today, the day nomination papers are due, is a good time to think about where everyone is and what they need to do to win.

Warning: Analysis and predictions ahead. Some people aren't going to like what they see and hear. The following is my own analysis based on what I see, hear and what my gut tells me. It might not be right, but it's not crazy or slanted to favor anyone. I'm not shilling for one candidate or knocking another. Don't like it? Fine, but respond with smart analysis, not the tripe that has been passing for comments here lately. And for the love of God, be honest with yourself and the situation. This message brought to you by an administrator partly bored and partly ashamed by the endless stream of garbage comments. End of warning, on with the show.

Suddenly, Tom Donnelly's looking pretty good in the primary. In fact, if that election were held today, he'd have one of the top two slots sewn up. Dan Mylott's decision to exit the race is of big help to Donnelly. All of the sudden, Donnelly has a 10-year-old citywide organization going up against candidates who have never run citywide before. For folks who like a little experience, he laps the field many times over. After wondering since April where his campaign has been, it's starting to wake up a little bit. In fact, Save Fitchburg Mansion was hit with a postcard a few weeks saying he'd stop for a visit soon. Haven't seen him, but we're expecting him soon. Mylott's departure doesn't necessarily mean Mylott voters are streaming to Donnelly, but for undecideds (and I think those are many) and others, Donnelly's strengths are suddenly unique to the field. Let's go back to the numbers: Expect 3,000, maybe 3,500 people to vote in the preliminary. Getting out your vote will be extremely important. No one will do that better than Donnelly. He works hard the next six weeks, doesn't make any big mistakes, and he's in good shape come Sept. 25.

If Mylott's decision helped Donnelly, it probably doesn't do much for Lisa Wong one way or the other. She wasn't running against Mylott too much like other candidates (hang on, we'll get there), but I wouldn't expect a flood of former Mylott support going her way. Call it a wash. Wong has been running a campaign by the numbers so far. She's knocking on doors, laying the groundwork, and boning up on her policy. Her's will be a policy-driven campaign, no doubt. The establishment has been impressed so far, and she has some friends and allies amongst some elected officials. She'll have to turn up the heat a little bit after Labor Day, but her steady work so far puts her in good shape for Sept. 25.

Part of Wong's current situation is based on the shaky last few weeks for Ted DeSalvatore. By any measure, he has been struggling the last few weeks. The electronic folks are pounding away at him, his stance on the homeless downtown is matter-of-fact to the point of being possibly unfeeling, he's been portrayed as heartless to a man begging on his knees in the Telegram, and the "focus on what's bad" line didn't help much either. Throw in the LTE this week on his campaign manager harassing a senior at the July 4 parade, and yikes, tough times. For folks who didn't have an opinion of the guy -- and are paying attention to this stuff -- it hasn't been a good month or so. That's gotta turn around if he's going to stick. He needs to generate some good press. Find a friendly reporter to talk some big ideas and the future of the city. Here's what it boils down to: He has an energized and enthusiastic base -- perhaps the most loyal and rabid core in the race. The question is, does his breadth match his depth? Beyond that base, will he lure the voters needed to win this thing? No one knows for sure, but for folks who were thinking "I might vote for Ted, but..." the buts have been raining down lately. If nothing else, he could use some good karma right now. If the election were held today, the last month wouldn't do him any favors -- and quite possibly keep him out of the money. He's got six weeks to turn that around. Can he do it? Absolutely. Memories are short and it is the middle of the summer, when attention spans are minimal. But he's now in recovery mode.

Finally, there's Ronald Dionne. Doesn't see the need for a computer, says there's overspending in government but hasn't read this year's budget, and isn't raising money for his campaign. Instead of gauging his chances of winning, it might be best to set an over/under on his votes. He was just under 300, I believe, in his write-in campaign in 2005. Let's go with 199. Place your bets.

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