Run to Daylight

. November 5, 2019.
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Finding the openings in City Politics

Incumbency is powerful. As documented in this humble column, once elected to office, most officeholders are fully entrenched for keeps. That overstates the truth, though. Some incumbents run up against term limits. Others (notably, judges) have age limits. And some incumbents succumb to the final arbiter of all things, human, Father Time.

It’s generally not advisable to run against an incumbent unless you enjoy a healthy dose of loserville. Gung ho wannabes instead watch for pending openings caused by term limits, age limits, and just plain retirements. There are rare exceptions to the rule. Don’t waste your effort attacking an incumbent. Openings are coming. Wait for them, then run to daylight. Because when they appear, the stampede is on.

Talk of 2020

Take the LC Prosecutor’s Office. Julia Bates has held this position for a generation. She is pretty much invulnerable to all challenges. Except for the calendar. As Bates approaches retirement the heavy political hitters are lining up. Auditor Anita Lopez and Muni Clerk of Courts Vallie Bowman-English are rumored to be waiting in the wings. Rest assured they are not alone. Others are already foaming at the mouth in anticipation of this plum position. Normal people aren’t always focused on the next election. Wannabes aren’t normal people, though. For them, it’s always election season. Let the games begin.

LC Sheriff John Tharp has already announced he will not seek re-election. The election to replace him isn’t until November twenty twenty, yet Councilman Gary Johnson has already announced his candidacy. Ditto Earl Mack, who has already begun littering the county with political yard signs. It might seem too soon to be in full-on next year election mode. But the partisan primary is only a bit more than four months away. The race to replace is on before the dust settles on twenty nineteen.

Watching the calendar

There are rare exceptions to the rule. Wade beat PHH. As we go to press, the votes aren’t yet counted, but legacy Tom Puffenberger decided to take a stab at fellow legacy Judge Josh Lanzinger. These are the exceptions that prove the rule. Don’t waste your effort attacking an incumbent.

The unknown in this calendar watching is when the calendar will catch up with LC Recorder Phil Copeland. The man is getting on in years. We’re pretty sure he’s still in office, although there’s no clear way to tell. The Recorder job is pretty much an anachronism, and besides, it’s the staff that actually does the work. All of which makes this the most sought after elected office. No pressure, no visibility, just a public paycheck.

Wannabes will flock to Copeland’s retirement like flies to, well, you know what flies flock to. In the meantime, we actually do wonder if Copeland is still around. Haven’t seen nor heard from him in years. Phil if you’re listening, give us a call. We’re worried about you.