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  Guest Editorial From Jim Rogers
November 6, 2010

Guest Editorial: What does it all mean? Rogers tells me.


To respond to your question at the end of your article "The Political Endorsement Game: Winners and Losers" : What does it all mean? is well nigh impossible. However, I'd like to offer a few thoughts.

First let me thank everyone who voted to re-elect me, but , more importantly those  who didn't vote for me.

I have so much respect for those who wade through all the rhetoric, hit pieces, puffery, etc. and vote (even if not for me); I have so little respect for those who don't vote and then complain about how screwed up the politicians are.  

Thought #1: Voters feel that Richmond has not been well served by the Establishment. There are different ideas of what the Establishment  is (Chevron, political parties, political groups)but whatever it is people  don't like it.

In the  last 7 races only one candidate with big "Establishment" support has won: Nat Bates for Council two years ago.

Thought #2: The medium is the message. For a lot of voters, negative hit pieces suck.

Doesn't matter about the accusations, many voters feel that the medium (attack ads) are unfair and vote for the attacked candidate.

Myrna Lopez was behind Maria Viramontes in the polls, and the card clubs sent out several hit pieces on her, claiming she was a special interest tool. There was no documentation of the attack, and on election Day, Myrna got more votes than Maria.


While on the topic of attack ads, I can't resist mentioning discussing the possibility of my being attacked by special interests with my daughter Anais, 10.

She looked at me with wide eyed concern and said "Don't go out of the house."' 

 (They didn't attack me for the same reason no one attacked Tom Butt 2 years ago: not because we hadn't pissed off lots of  people with lots of money but because they thought we would win anyway.)

Thought #3: Harnessing the power of the Internet matters. In the old days, powerful special interest spending (like the $60,000 Chevron spent sending lying hit pieces trying to prevent me from getting elected to the Council) could only be rebutted by neighbors chatting over the fence.

Now, multiple email lists are reached with the click of a mouse.

Although Tom Butt's E-forum is the most important of these, it is not the only one.

Thought #4: Size matters. Special interest hit pieces are rendered impotent if the voters are aware of who the sponsor is.

State law permits special interests to  hide their identity in the fine print buried in the middle of a million Mom and Apple pie supporters (no offense, I love both) .

Richmond law (which I wrote) requires a larger disclosure.

Special interests partially complied with the Richmond law, enough to  let most voters see who was really behind the ads.

Jim Rogers
Richmond Councilmember