- Mike befriended the grassroots, not the elites. He personally visited virtually every home on the Island, appeared in every public debate (Maureen skipped the one in August), sponsored a "meet the candidate" event at the Community Center, and waved his own signs day and night on Island Crest on the days before the election. Direct personal relationships always trump party affiliation and in this case, most of us felt like we knew Mike.
- Maureen, who moved to the Island only a few months before declaring her candidacy, was unable to demonstrate a sincere interest in the mundane details of local "pothole issues". It was obvious to many of us that she intended this position to be a stepping stone to a bigger political career. Some might think that would be a long-term advantage for Mercer Islanders, but plenty of people thought the opposite: once in office would she sell us out in order to advance her own career? And without local ties, who could blame her?
- Big-name endorsements are overrated. Why does it matter what out-of-town organizations think? Almost none of their members are Mercer Islanders anyway. Mike actively recruited endorsements from hundreds of "normal people", whereas Maureen seemed to care only about endorsements she could list as "firstname lastname (bigshot title)".
- Newspaper endorsements are superficial. The Seattle times endorsement of "Kathleen" (they botched her name!) begged obvious questions about how thoroughly they look at the candidates. The MI Reporter endorsement at least got the name correct, but left out details about why their editorial board made its decision. Maybe they just flip a coin? Who knows?
Congratulations to Mike Cero, who claimed victory in his City Council election, a notable upset considering the huge lead in endorsements and high-power Democratic party backing enjoyed by his opponent, Maureen Judge, who tonight posted her concession statement on her web site.
For the record, let me say that I sincerely do think Maureen is highly-qualified and would have been an excellent addition to the City Council. I hope she doesn't give up politics, but continues to use her formidable experience and energy volunteering to help the Island.
Most discussions about the campaign give the following reasons for Mike's victory:
I have another theory about how to win a local election, particularly in close races like this one: go electronic. Look at this snapshot of the number of people who read my posts about Maureen and Mike during just the three weeks before election day:
(that midpoint line is 50 people per day)
A total of 997 unique visitors came to my site during this period, including a lot of people who found me via a Google search for "Maureen Judge" (my posts were consistently among the top results):
And these weren't just accidental visitors -- the average time spent looking at these posts was over 3 minutes. What were they thinking about while they were here?
A few more observations:
- I have a busy day job and this pathetic blog is an amateur hobby, nothing more. I do nothing to promote it. You're reading this because you found it by word of mouth from somebody else. Imagine if you created a local blog and actually tried to get readers, through advertising, through "professional" graphic design, etc.
- I wasn't involved in any campaign. I never attended a "strategy meeting", never coordinated my posts with other campaign activities. Neither Mike nor Maureen had any control or advanced information on what I posted from one day to another. Imagine what would have happened if an election campaign had specifically targeted the blogosphere!
- Maureen was the only candidate who never contacted me (Cero, Bassett, Litzow--they all personally emailed me when I posted about them). No doubt her campaign thought it was better to simply ignore me -- I'm just too little, particularly when she has such high-powered figures in her camp. But I think the lesson is that in a local election you can't afford to ignore anybody -- particularly when victory is decided by a mere 200 votes.
Finally, let me thank all of you readers for coming here, and especially those who provided great insight with your comments. If anyone reading this is interested in running another campaign, please contact me and I'd love to give you additional suggestions based on what I learned while analyzing my web traffic.