Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hangovers Are Better Than Hanging Chads

On Wednesday morning, after a late night of election parties and blogging, I joined Jerry Roberts of Calbuzz and Nick Welsh of the Independent to perform a post mortem on the election results. The discussion was taped for showing on Channel 21 starting this Friday at noon and 8:30 pm. Here's some of the things we talked about.

1. What did Texan Rodney Van Wolfswinkel get for the half million dollars he spent?

Absolutely nothing. At least that's my opinion. Let's start with the three candidates his Preserve Our Santa Barbara PAC targeted for attack and how he portrayed them. There was "The Spendthrift" (mayoral candidate Helene Schneider), "The Frequent Flyer" (council candidate Grant House), and "The Fox Who Wants to Guard the Hen House), Bendy White.

Schneider of course won the race for mayor with an impressive 46 percent of the vote. She beat Dale Francisco, who Preserve Our Santa Barbara supported, by 2,600 votes.

In the council race, House finished first and White finished 700 votes behind him as the second highest vote getter.

And then of course there's Measure B, the building height limitation measure which Preserve Our Santa Barbara also supported. It failed to pass by nearly 2,000 votes.

In short, Preserve Our Santa Barbara not only didn't stop any of the candidates they targeted. They didn't even slow anybody down.

The only person Van Wolfswinkel could possibly claim a victory over was mayoral candidate, Steve (from Russia With Love) Cushman who finished third with a meager 3,600 votes. Of course inflicting collateral damage is hardly anything to brag about.

2. And what did happen to Cushman?

Why do we secretly enjoy it when the "big man on campus" gets turned down by the prom queen for a date?

There were six candidates for city council that got more votes than Cushman did. Cushman got half the votes of the second place finisher in his race, Francisco.

So where did Cushman go wrong? Oh, let me count the ways. First, he never adequately explained how he could hold down the mayor's job and keep his position as head of the chamber of Commerce. He was in denial that this was a conflict of interest. The only person he was fooling was himself.

And then there was that "this-race-is-not-big-enough-for-both-of-us" letter he wrote to Francisco that his campaign made public. Well, he was right, one of the two of them should have gotten out of the race. He just had the wrong guy.

Of course the idea that he'd have a private meeting with Francisco, and then blab about it came across as unseemly. If this was Cushman's idea of a "new way" of doing business at city hall, I'll stick with the old way.

3. What does the future hold for Dianne Channing?

The first time she ran for council in 2005 she finished fifth. This time around, armed with impressive endorsements, she finished fifth again. That's got to be discouraging.

4. Who got the most bang for their buck?

David Pritchett, who raised $16,000 and got 5,000 votes. Compare that to John Thyne, who raised $73,000 and got 3,300 votes.

5. And now that the election is over, what is the question foremost on everyone's mind?

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of wondering if that was Russian vodka that Cushman was drinking at his election night party.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and