Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: More Lessons For Political Newcomers

http://www.citylab.com; November 7, 2017

Hello Everyone:

It is a very warm Wednesday and Blogger Candidate Forum is coming to you from a cooler location.  Before we get to today's subject: Part two of Lessons for Political Newcomers, it seems that Mr. Donald Trump it feeling the intense heat from the Special Counsel's investigation. Naturally, Mr. Trump tweeted this morning demanding that Attorney General (for now) Jeff Sessions immediately end the Russian meddling investgation.  Never at a loss for words, former New York City Mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said it was time for Robert Mueller to show everyone what he has.  Be careful for what you wish for.  You may get it and it may not be what you want.  Shall we move on?

In last week's Candidate Forum post, we began a discussion on what a first-time candidate needs to do in order to beat the local political machine.  We learned that political newcomers need to pay their dues and details matter.  The Trump election energized a lot of grassroots political activism. Men and women, who otherwise would not have entered the political realm, are manning campaigns, filing their candidacy papers for state and local elections.  Brigid Bergin asks, in her CityLab article, "Can Local Candidates Ever Defeat the Political Machine?"  Today we learn two more lessons: start early and how to win your fight with City Hall.  Make sure you take notes.

Lesson 3: "Get an early start"

You heard of the saying "Nothing gets done until the last minute?"  Forget it.  When it comes to political campaigns, the earlier you start, the better.  Case in point, both the Democrat and Republican National Committees are readying possible candidates for the 2020 elections.  This is very true in the case of Alexandria  Ocasio-Cortez.

Ms. Bergin writes, "For some first-time candidates, the big race comes next year."  Ms. Ocasio-Cortez resides in the 14th congressional district, which encompasses parts of Queens and the Bronx.  The district is 50 percent Latino--almost half of the residents are foreign-born.  Ms. Bergin observes, "Even though the race is months away, [Ms. Ocasio-Cortez won her primary and is headed to the Generals in November], savy candidates are getting a head start."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's victory over incumbent Representative Joe Crowley seemed to come out of nowhere but here is how she did it.

Rep. Crowley secured his seat almost twenty years ago and had not faced a primary challenger in 14 years.  He is currently the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, making him the fourth-most powerful Democrat in Congress.  His colleagues consider him someone with leadership potential (thehill.com; Jan. 2, 2017; date accessed Aug. 1, 2018) and Rep. Crowley also leads the Queens Democratic County Committee--in short, he is the machine boss.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez explained, last autumn, to Ms.Bergin why she threw her proverbial hat into the ring.

A former campaign worker for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), she told CityLab, "Crowley is beholden to Wall Street and real-estate interests, and he's out of touch."  She said,

The way the Queens Democratic Party machine has worked, they operate on a politics of exclusion.

Representative Crowley had a differing opinion.  He told CityLab, I think 'rigged' is an interesting word to use when e judges in this county are elected by the people,... Technically true but misleading: "Judicial candidates are nominated by the party.  In a one-party town, voters don't have much of a choice at the polls."

Rep. Joe Crowley has a few, albeit somewhat condescending, questions for those who feel left out of the political process.

Do they belong to a Democratic club?  Do they understand what a primary is?  Do they know that's not necessarily the end all, that there was a general election?  How sensitive is that district to a general election?

Bottom line, whether you are a political newcomer or in line for a congressional leadership position, you have to understand how the machine works--the sooner the better.

Lesson 4: "How to fight City Hall, and win"

"You can't fight City Hall," right?  You can fight and beat City Hall if you pay your dues, pay attention to the details, and start early.  Otherwise, you risk getting swallowed up by the machine, instead of being embraced by it, and may be will respond with a shrug.

Kimberly Roberts is building on the foundation she laid working on Adrienne Adams' campaign. Despite being cut from the ballot, Eryka Montoya spends her evening working the phone banks for othe other candidates.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was victorious in her primary race and is poised for the national stage.  She still has to win in November but the signs are good and remains upbeat.  Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said,

If [my congressional district] can be more educated, more organized, more invested than we were a year ago,..., then this campaign will have been 100 percent worth.