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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scranton Mayoral Election

Time are hard
You're afraid the pay the fee
So you find yourself somebody
Who will do the job for free

- Dirty Work/Steely Dan

Now the song "Dirty Work" is actually about a guy who has an affair with a married woman, but I always think of political campaigns whenever I hear the first verse. No where was that more evident than in the Scranton mayoral election, where you had more than a few proxies acting on behalf of the candidates, especially Gary DiBileo.

First let me say that. while I've never met Gary DiBileo, in typical small town fashion "I know people that know him", and everything I've heard is good. Professionally the guy has nothing short of an outstanding reputation as a top notch insurance agent. Based on that, he is probably a natural political candidate, and he has been somewhat successful over the years, winning at least one election for Scranton City Council. So what happened this time?

I'm sure there will be much message board posting about how Gary wasn't a good candidate, and I simply don't buy that; in fact, I think he ran a pretty good campaign, all things considered. So again, what happened this time? Well I think there were two factors at work here:
  1. While Gary was a good candidate, Chris Doherty was a better candidate. Put another way, Gary was up against someone in Doherty who is simply really, really good at winning elections. Chris Doherty is a smart and savvy guy with great instincts. How good? Consider this: in a political season of "get the bums out", he actually almost doubled his victory margin against Gary when compared on the 2005 election.
  2. Gary couldn't resolve the disconnect in his message, specifically that of "I'm the endorsed Democratic candidate AND I'm not part of the old political business-as-usual way of doing things around here". In point of fact, local political party endorsements are the classic stuff of smoke-filled backroom deals, not exactly "new kind of politician" stuff.
It also didn't help that Doherty was able to paint Gary as basically a tool of the municipal unions.

Regardless, I think it was a relatively clean race, at least as far as the official campaigns were concerned.

More to come...

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