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A Mayoral Campaign Diary

(The following are a series of e-mails -- largely from individuals closely involved with one or another of the mayoral candidates' campaigns, although a couple are from persons whose ties, if any, to a specific candidate were not known to Mobile Bay Times -- received over the course of the campaign. The identities of the correspondents have been concealed.)

NR, 6/14/05: AB's event went extremely well. ... the crowd was more than I expected on a Monday evening. It's hard for me to estimate a crowd but it was at, or slightly above or below, 200 people in 90+ degree heat. Clifton and Vaughn Morrissette did an outstanding job of cooking and serving mini-hamburgers and coney dogs. The age of the crowd was mixed but skewed toward the older side which is to be expected. AB spoke for a very short time, mainly thanking everyone for coming and giving them a pep talk about the importance of this campaign. Jerry and Terry Lathan stayed the entire time I was there (until around 6:45). Ann must get a strong Republican vote to win. Jerry and Terry definitely help the campaign.

WLG, 6/14/05: The spot is an "intro" spot. It touches on AB's being the first Republican woman elected to the State house and senate; her concern for education and creation of the Alabama School for Math and Science; her business experience and considerable contacts to help bring in new jobs; a tighten the belt, conservative fiscal attitude; and finally, a commitment to cut sales taxes. That's about all you can do in 30-seconds.

PBR, 6/17/05: Yes...the (fire fighters') vote on whether to endorse was close. 35 to 37. Bess was able to hold on by the skin of her teeth.

PBR, 6/22/05: As for the (bridge) route, Sam is making a mistake, substantively and politically. He is hurting his Down the Bay constituency. What's his incentive? To help Houston voters using I-10 or Fairhope voters for that matter?

SP, 6/25/05: Have you done anything on Ann's TV buy and what they are hoping to accomplish? I understand they dropped over 30 thou and bought about a 1,000 points. Nobody else is starting this early...so what's the deal?  Trying to encourage discouraged supporters who are depressed by their candidate's running fourth despite extremely high name ID? After all, unless you have a name ID problem, which Ann doesn't since her name ID is almost 80 percent, you'd never start your media this early. I would think this kind of buy should produce a jump in numbers ... unless there is voter coolness. What kind of jump would you expect ...10 percent? More? Less? Frankly, I am beginning to think Bess and John are competitors. Ann just doesn't seem to have traction, and her campaigning is not likely to change that equation. Speaking of which, did you watch the debate?

DG, 6/25/05: From Ann's standpoint, she is behind both of them and further behind Peavy than Rich. At least, that is what a poll last week showed. Ann and Bess are very close to one another and behind Peavy. What I was saying is that I thought voters were showing resistence to Ann for whatever reason...age, class, image, whatever. Of course, Bess has a ceiling. Her negatives are as high as I have ever seen. Still, she has the potential to reach about 20 percent. Now I reserve the right to amend, obviously, but here is my present instinct. John will get around 25 percent, Bess will get around 20 percent. Ann will get around 15 percent. Sam will get around 40 percent.  How do you rate those numbers in terms of your present instinct. As for the perception game, here is the critical distinction between what Peavy did in this regard versus what Ann is doing. Peavy put up signs to increase his name ID. These signs will be up until the end. Ann, on the other hand, doesn't need name recognition. Further, money spent now is wasted. Any consultant will tell you that you can't go up and then go dark. The only reason to do so is receive a momentary boost in the polls. You do this to alter the perception of a losing effort or to gin up money. Ann doesn't need the money, but she does have a perception problem. So, I think they are doing this in order to get a bump in the polls, even if they know it will be transitory. I say it will be transitory because it just about always is. Once the spots stop, the polls drift back down. This is why a candidate with name ID already will wait, if he or she can, until their spots will be able to stay up to the end.
What is going to happen, I think, is that once John's and Bess's spots start, the race will go back to where it is now...Sam, John, Bess, Ann...in that order. As for Ann running a media campaign, it would have to be better than the first spot. I sent it to an extremely experienced campaign manager who knows Mobile but is not from here...so, he has no axe to grind. When he first got it, he played it without sound.  He described it as non-descript when soundless. The he was able to play it with sound. He said he thought it would irritate voters. In other words, money has limited utility for a candidate with high name recognition already. Without a strong message, there is nothing to change the dynamics. Bess, on the other hand, has a base of around 18 to 20 percent ... maybe 22 percent.  She has a message of resentment... people who resent folks they perceive to be powerful. But she is negative in a population that is pretty optimistic...even more so with things like EADS happening. 

This means Peavy needs to be 22 percent or higher. I am dubious Bedsole can reach this level. She would have to double her present level of support ... from people who already know her and like her but for whatever reason reject her as Mayor. This is why Bess is a stronger play. As for a campaign going negative, I don't know. My guess is that only Bess will. There are a bunch of very practical reasons the other three will not.

NR, 7/1/05: It is now my understanding that Sam Jones has indeed done a 180 on the Cochrane Bridge route and is now supporting (or open to) a northern route.

PBR, 7/2/05: Interesting. I had figured (the reason was) his Down the Bay constituency and concern over the effect his stand would have on swing white voters into quality of life issues. But GRB may indeed be the real answer.

JP popped SJ and vice versa. SJ sees JP as his likely runoff opponent. They say BR in hopes of boosting her, but privately admit JP is the likely opponent. I thought JP's comeback to experience was very effective . . .  Yes, SJ has 18 years experience in expanding government payrolls and revenues, but JRP has had both government and private sector experience building a successful business from scratch and learning to control costs.

As for Bess, I have heard some talk, but it may be simply the fact that she finally has some signs up.

Did you all get the Jack Edwards direct mail piece? We did not. 
Wonder how many households got it and why. Curious piece. KL says the first third is about Jack's loving Mobile but living in Baldwin County. The next third is that he was not the Jack Edwards who hosted another candidate's fundraiser. The final third is about how many good things Ann has done.

As I told K, it would have been like dragging out Frank Boykin
in the 1980's. After all, it is approaching a quarter century since
Jack held office. I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Gosh, it's fun to live long enough to appreciate the richness of irony!

LC, 7/3/05: At the bottom of this article on Peavy's website he has a quote from Reggie Copeland that Peavy "will make a great mayor. So, is this his endorsement of Peavy? Or did he really say this? Happy July 4th.

LK, 8/6/05: Looks like it's Sam the man.

LK, 8/8/05: Joe Turnham is Hubbert/Reed's choice for the ADem Party chairmanship. Doug Jones really wants the chair- may run vs. Turnham.

MB, 8/8/05: At least, your uncertainties are my uncertainties. If Sam's camp really thought they were going to take it the first time out, they'd be spending all their money and be all over the TV. Since they are not, I think it is all talk about winning without a runoff. As for District 2, I have no idea. William Carroll ought to do well in the white community. As for the black community, I have no feel. The black leadership is lining up behind Thomas Sullivan. In fact, Sam's sign crews are putting up Sullivan signs when they put up Sam's signs. (If you go out to Sam's HQ, you will find Sullivan signs in a back room.)  Sanford Davis's crew is working the streets for Sullivan. So, it is going to be interesting. In District 7, Nodine is working it for Hand and he has money behind him, but I think Gina is the likely winner, despite her lack of money.

HW, 8/11/05: Can you opine about the Peavy strategy?  I am not surprised that some mud would be slung, but I really didn't think it would be directed at SJ. I thought somebody would have gone after Peavy before now. I just wonder what the polls are showing. This ploy could backfire on Peavy. He probably is correct in assuming SJ is behind the push-poll. Peavy needs more evidence than he is showing today. Nodine is livid that the Waffle House has been dragged into the race. Is/was he a Peavy backer? If this hurts Peavy, who will it help most? Bedsole? Bess? Or SJ? What do you think?

??, 8/12/05: Where have you been on this? They've been planning this stuff for months and it reeks. Peavy push-polled himself, and then Nodine pops up just before the election to remind everyone about the Waffle House incident. It is all orchestrated and I hope Jones beats the crap out of them.

??, 8/12/05: Can't say who I am.

I will say this - Nodine has been blowing fire out of his mouth for the past two days to anyone who would listen about how his family was slandered and he wants an apology. He has a legitimate complaint. However he has worked well with Jones for months and I am curious as to why his temper is skyrocketing. Jones didn't bring up Waffle House. The paper didn't bring up Waffle House. Peavy commercials brought up Waffle House. They bring up Waffle House themselves. Nodine appears on cue to act like he was just defamed yesterday and finally we get the black/white battle that everyone feared and Peavy wants and needs.

As for proof of push polling, I have the same proof that Peavy does against Jones. And I am not a fan of Jones. That leaves Rich and Bedsole. Bedsole capable (but) woefully out of touch. And Bess Rich semi-capable (but) too much of an outsider, cannot build any consensus. The town has problems.

BR, 8/12/05: Jones 36, Peavy 18, Bedsole 11 and Rich 10.  Leaners add a little over two points to Peavy and Bedsole, one point to Rich and a half a point at most to Jones. Among the 26 percent undecided voters, Peavy's favorables are 70 percent. In the last month, his negatives have been cut in half and his positives have risen...oh the power and glories of TV spots. So, you see why it is so preposterous that we would want to risk shaking up the way this thing is going!  

AD, 8/12/05: The Register's poll is coming out Sunday, though they will be calling around today for comment. The problem with their poll, and I have no idea what it will show, is its methodology. It calls random numbers and seeks likely voters by asking if they are registered and if it is likely that they will vote. This is like asking if they are patriotic. The answer is always yes. Seriously, it does skew things. Second, and maybe even more significantly, they don't weigh the districts properly. They assume a geographic balance in the sense that they assume an equal turnout in all seven districts. For example, District 1 generally produces around 11 percent of the City's total vote and District 6 generally produces around 19 percent of the City's vote. In the Register poll, though, they assume that District 1 gets the same sample as District 6. This skews the results very much. It hurts candidates who appeal to voters in west Mobile

PBR, 8/13/05: I've learned that Sam has bought 60K in TV to run from now until Monday week. A lot of the placement (certain daytime programs) suggests he wants to gin up his base.

EO'B, 8/15/05: Got some new data on the District 2 race...it is really tight. Sullivan and Carroll are neck and neck. Burroughs is a blip, but the guy named Jones is getting enough to force a runoff ... voters probably think it's Sam. If so, his actual vote will fall off a good bit ... the question is whether the fall off is enough to avoid a runoff. 

YY, 8/16/05: Tonight will show: Jones at 43; Peavy at 24; Bedsole at 18; Rich at 13

LK, 8/16/05: No real surprises. Jones in the run-off and will have to raise substantial dough to win. I think it will be Peavy in the run-off. Race never leaves these things. I've been traveling quite a bit and won't be back (except a day or so) until the end of the month. Keep me posted. The Turnham-Jones thing is interesting. It will be most revealing. Tom Parker/Roy Moore are really going to shake up the Rep. Primary. Business Council doesn't really know what to do.

YY, 8/16/05: Sam's number is strong in this poll. I initially thought he could not win -- that the math was not good enough and that racial undercurrents would keep folks from voting for him --qualifications and experience notwithstanding. I am slowly changing my mind. Although race is a factor the Bedsole/Peavy split has gotten fairly nasty in some circles -- enough so that it  may cause many to rethink dismissing Sam out of hand or simply sit out of the runoff.

Leaving Rich out -- which of the 3 do you think has the most realistic change of leading the City to annex west? I think John does, but his behavior the last 10 days really causes me to question his judgment, savvy, etc.

NR, 8/16/05: On your grizzled political veteran, I am inclined to think that Ann and Sam will be in a run-off. In fact, a poll  predicts the final vote as: Jones 41%, Bedsole 23% Peavy 20% and Rich 16%. It shows about 20% still undecided and broke out the undecideds along the same lines as the poll and that is the result. I frankly expect Sam to come in around 38 or 39% but who knows? I believe this is the screwiest election I've seen in a long time.

PBR, 8/16/05: The WKRG numbers are out....43 Jones, 24 Peavy, 18 Bedsole, and 13 Rich. Has only 2 percent
undecided .... must have some extrapolation. Sam is getting 88 percent of the black vote. Bess and John get 4 percent each of the black vote. Ironically, Ann who thought she could unite the racial divide, is only pulling 1 percent of the black vote. She has a direct mail piece out with Sonny. Sonny is not a factor...

HA, 8/16/05: WKRG poll. Jones 43; Peavy 24; Bedsole 18; Rich 13. What happened to all those undecideds, 2?

PBR, 8/16/05: No chance. In fact, there were two factions in Jones' camp, one of which advocated going for broke. The more cautious faction won. This explains the modest TV buy. As for the 43, all the numbers are high. I'd put him at 36 rather than 43. So, in reality, Sam has to move from the mid-thirties to 50 plus one in the next week.

OP, 8/16/05: So, did you watch Channel 5 at 6. Was it just me or did JRP look like the winner? His comments were perfect, I think. 
Also, the internals show 39 percent of Republicans for Peavy and he led among independents.

YY, 8/17/05: Sam was likely behind the (push) poll, I just find JP's response(s) just plain goofy. Several folks I was with over the weekend -- all following the race somewhat but not strongly backing anyone -- found JP's behavior troubling. If he had their votes, he lost them. AB is the likely beneficiary of the event. The only other thought about the poll -- how can its "undecided" be so low when the newspaper poll had it so high?

TLT, 8/17/05: Picky, picky. What is your feeling? I think Ann is going to beat Peavy. Very close though. Negative has not helped Peavy. Ann's media seems to be helping her.

TLT, 8/17/05: Had not seen this (WKRG poll) when I responded to your e-mail. Maybe negative did work?

NR, 8/17/05: ... I don't think Mobile would annex Prichard even if they voted 100% to become part of Mobile. Prichard has only been mentioned (in a passing reference from more than a decade ago). 

I have been told that there is no way Sam can win a run-off unless it is against Bess and even that is problematical. Could be a final vote of Jones 41, Bedsole 23, Peavy 20 and Rich 16 with a KO of Sam by Ann in a runoff. I personally think Sam might fall below the 40 mark unless he is able to motivate a massive black turn-out. The overall Bedsole vs. Peavy numbers are close but ... It's just something for you to look for on Tuesday.

TLT, 8/19/05: "I say Jones 45, Peavy 21, Bedsole 17, Rich 16. HHRRUMMPF!"

PJK, 8/22/05: What LE said was when asked what the city had to offer to those areas sought to be annexed, Jones replied roads and drainage. West Mobile has problems with neither--who does?  Prichard.