Local dems swing and miss
When it is election time, it’s good to be an incumbent.
Being in power means you have clout. And those who want to curry favor with you know it. Which makes it easy to raise campaign cash. Ask, and you receive.
Incumbents also benefit from being in the limelight. Name recognition is everything in political races, and incumbents can get their name in front of the public constantly. Call a press conference and an incumbent can guarantee it will get coverage. Not to mention the obvious fact that voters have already seen, and likely voted for, your name on the ballot.
Then there are the benefits of having already run a winning campaign. Incumbents have an experienced volunteer base. They have a developed logo and brand, a donor list, campaign literature and yard signs.
Political parties understand all that, of course. Which makes endorsing an incumbent a no-brainer.
Take the local dems. There’s a provision in their by-laws making it difficult to endorse in a race before the primary election. But that didn’t stop them from recently endorsing incumbent Toledo Council members Matt Cherry, Peter Ujvagi, Yvonne Harper, and Chris Delaney a full six months before the September primary. No-brainer.
So, if it doesn’t take any brains to endorse an incumbent, what must it take to refuse to endorse one?
Life of Riley
Whatever it takes, that’s what the Ds did in refusing to endorse incumbent Councilman Tyrone Riley in his race for re-election. Riley has already won his seat twice. He has all the advantages listed above. Well, except for usable yard signs. His signs tout him as an “endorsed” Democrat. Which, at this point, he’s not.
What did Riley do to suffer such a fate? Was it the dine and dash caper? The unpaid water bills? The failure to properly keep up his rental properties?
We doubt it, since most elected Dem officials have blemishes on their public record. Heck, the Ds endorsed Lindsay Webb for Treasurer, even after she proved to be a junk bond credit risk. Plenty of Ds have bad credit and still get endorsed. Think A Lo. And lots have had trouble paying bills.
So what gives with Riley?
Power of none
More importantly, does it really matter? The Party endorsement brings with it no campaign donations. But it does give access to Party volunteers, donor lists, and use of party HQ. As an incumbent D, Riley already has all those things. Failure to endorse him doesn’t take it all away, and failure to endorse his opponents doesn’t give them any leg up.
Endorsement is supposed to bring about Party discipline. Ds are supposed to pledge to assist no one but an endorsed candidate in an election campaign. Where there is no endorsement, Ds are free to work for any candidate they wish. Including Riley.
And Ds have famously flouted Party discipline with no consequences. Prominent Dem Councilman Nick Komives worked publicly for the campaign of then-State Rep Teresa Fedor, even though then-Rep Michael Ashford had been endorsed by the Party in the race for State Senate. Yet Komives is still a member of the Party Executive Committee and leader of the Stonewall Democratic Club. No consequences.
Heck, Wade ran against, and beat, endorsed Dem Mayor PHH. A year later he is welcomed back into Party leadership.
What power does the Party have in enforcing its ban on working against endorsed candidates? None, it seems. What does refusing to endorse Riley mean? Nothing, we’ll bet. He will absolutely, positively finish first in the Primary, and go on to win re-election. Whether he uses his “endorsed Democrat” yard signs or not.
What have the Dems accomplished by all this? We can’t say, but we know this. It doesn’t take a brain to endorse a successful incumbent. It doesn’t take a brain to shoot yourself in the foot, either.