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Coasting

Would you be ready to marry someone after a courtship consisting of only a half-dozen speed-dates? I wouldn’t!

Yet, Trenton mayoral candidate Eric Jackson is ready to call the caterer and get measured for his tux. He’s done debating opponents for this current election, and thinks he’s done all he has to in order to tie the knot with the City of Trenton. He will still graciously deign to allow individual audiences:

“Paul Perez and I have participated in joint forums and question and answer sessions six times during the course of this campaign — far more than is typical during mayoral races,” Jackson explained in a statement. “In the last 10 days before the election, my priority is to talk to members of our community individually about my plan to reduce crime, improve schools, create jobs and restore ethics to City Hall.”

He apparently believes that there is a quota for such appearances, and that he’s reached it.  His campaign must believe – with some justification, it has to be said – that he is a strong favorite to win the June 10 runoff election against Paul Perez, and that at this point any further public debates or forums can only provide opportunities to make public mistakes. Better that he limits any further appearances to “individual” papal-type audiences, where he can tailor his message to each person he speaks with, and can be less concerned with communicating a consistent and coherent public message that he would be held accountable for.

His campaign strategy seems to be geared toward mistake avoidance, just planning on coasting from now until June 10. This lack of activity extends to his campaign website and Twitter feed. The candidate has messaged only twice since May 13’s election, once to announce recent endorsements and once to observe the passing of Maya Angelou. This seems to me to be a “Rose Garden strategy” for someone who isn’t even an incumbent!

To me, Mr. Jackson misses two important considerations. First, in his recitation of the six sessions in which he has already participated this election season – “far more than is typical during mayoral races,” in his words – he neglects to note that all that campaigning resulted in a voter turnout of only 26.93% of registered Trenton voters. The runoff is likely to bring out a number smaller than that.

Mr. Jackson is OK with that? In his position I think I’d want to campaign harder and more publicly in order to get the vote out, to engage more voters to show up at the polls. If the June 10 turnout is anything like this month’s, then the new Mayor of Trenton will be elected with only something like 14% or 15% of Trenton’s voters. It will be hard to govern like that. The new guy will find it difficult to claim any kind of mandate, or to be treated seriously by anyone with the State or New Jersey with pitiful election numbers like that. But apparently that’s not bothering Mr. Jackson. He’s content with the effort he’s made so far, figuring that should be just enough to get him over the top.

A second relevant factor to look at is the example of how Kathy McBride fared at the polls a few weeks ago. Her campaign strategy specifically avoided appearances at public candidate forums, because as reported in the Trenton Times, “she also has declined to participate in the forums because the people who will pull the lever for her do not attend candidate forums. She said she is pulling her support from the people in the community who know her personally and have seen her around.” [Emphasis mine - KM]

A candidate or his campaign manager shouldn’t have to ponder very long about how well that kind of strategy paid off. McBride’s deliberate choice to avoid candidate forums had to have contributed to her sixth-place finish out of the field of six.  Jackson’s stance of disengagement from further public debate is a poor choice to have made.

His new emphasis on individual meetings with voters hearkens back to another recent example that I doubt Mr. Jackson wants to be associated with, but it is inevitable.

Remember that long ago time in the Fall of 2012 when He Who Will Not Be Named embarked on a series of weekly “Ask the Mayor” sessions? Remember how, after only three of those meetings – held in a City Hall conference room and open to the press and all citizens – abruptly ended after the fourth scheduled event “erupted in protest this morning and drew police involvement after Mack barred the press and unexpectedly required residents with questions to meet with him one-on-one ?”

I’m sure Tony Mack also figured that individual meetings were a better venue to talk about HIS plan to “reduce crime, improve schools, create jobs and restore ethics to City Hall!”

Are these associations with Kathy McBride and Tony Mack the kinds of examples that Mr. Jackson really wants for his campaign? I can’t think of any possible reason why, but they are inescapable after this latest announcement.

He really should re-consider his decision to avoid further debates and public joint appearances with Mr. Perez.

4 comments to Coasting

  • Dallas Dixon

    100% agree

  • ed w

    I saw him at one of the debates, he really didnt seam to know anything, but then Perez wasnt much better. now that its going to the finish, trentonians need to hear what the cesspool filter, i mean election, has to offer.

    peace

  • ed w

    btw, can someone doing the city of trenton website please remove our convicted and sentenced former mayor,s face from the web site??

    please.

  • Jimmy H

    Anyone considering this guy is out of there senses