Sunday, September 09, 2007

National Issues, local governments

As I wondered about why non-locals would care about a Mercer Island city council election, one conspiracy theorist pointed me to an article called "They Won't Know What Hit Them" in March 2007 Atlantic Monthly that describes a brilliant strategy to influence national issues through local elections:

Ted Trimpa, who is Colorado’s answer to Karl Rove ... cited the example of Barack Obama: ... It feels good to write him a check. “The temptation is always to swoon for the popular candidate,” Trimpa told me, “but a fraction of that money, directed at the right state and local races, could have flipped a few chambers.

The idea is for a national organization to encourage its members to send checks, not to national campaigns (where a single contribution won't make much difference) but to local ones where a small donation can make or break an election.  Since nation-wide politicians have to start somewhere, you can dramatically affect the future in the long run if you can prevent the opposition from ever getting elected in the first place.

A quick glance at the donor list for our election makes it clear that the specific issues in the article don't apply to current Mercer Island elections, but I think it's a great idea and something all political interest groups will do eventually.

Incidentally, I'm getting a bunch of emails from both campaigns and while I'm happy to hear from you directly , I encourage you to please, post to my comments.  I'm not intending this to be a political blog and I'm too lazy to check all the facts before summarizing into another post. Go ahead and post anonymously if you like.


Anonymous said...

The city council is non-partisan.

However, the donors (be they individual or group) suggest the campaigns are anything such.

A fair view of all candidate funding sources and endorsers would clearly show this is a "left" vs "right" battle.

Your postings may leave the reader that only the left have skin in the game because organizations are donating instead of individuals.

In reality, it's just a different set of tactics.

Richard Sprague said...

It seems to me that the "right", if they really do support the opposing candidate, would be smart to donate and endorse through existing organizations too rather than individuals. Unless Republicans have a secret handshake that lets them get out the word to go support Mike, if they really wanted this to be partisan, they're better off letting everyone know publicly. Right now there are probably dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who will vote for Maureen simply because they don't know she's a Democrat.