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David Nazar of PBS had a story last night on what I call the “de facto primary” among “reform” candidates Lorri Galloway and Tom Tait in the Anaheim Mayor’s race. Here’s the video thanks to Voice of OC:
Nazar quotes Galloway as saying that Tait “has been doing a poor job, has been ineffective, and has been isolated” — and then, apparently recognizing how that summation from a reporter sounds, archly adds: “her words.” Galloway says that Tait has failed to build “consensus” on critical items, which Nazar explains meaning losing 4-1 votes on issues including the GardenWalk Giveaway, the Stadium Lot Giveaway, and district voting. She contrasts Tait’s agenda of “kindness” with her own belief that one needs hard to build “consensus.”
Their speech and appearance in the video certainly reflects what I’ve seen from them — and (this maybe drive Tait up a tree, but nevertheless) for me it recalls some of the “Iron Lady Hillary vs. No Drama Obama” debates of late 2007 and the first half of 2008. Then as now, both approaches had their merits.
Galloway apparently didn’t much like the video. She came out with this statement today, with the headline “Dear Tom”:
Dear Friends and Family:
My campaign for Anaheim Mayor 2014 has been in the news lately. After a PBS story aired last night, I am heartsick because I have allowed negativity to be the focus, which is something that I abhor, and I have often been on the receiving end of it Truthfully, I am honored to be in a country where someone like me has the opportunity and freedom to run for such an office. My faith in God tells me that the blessing will be in the journey, not in the victory or defeat. I just sent this apology to the Mayor of Anaheim, Tom Tait.
With all of my heart, I sincerely apologize. This has spiraled into something that is negative and was never my intent. What has been said by me is hurtful and not the message I wanted to get across. The worst thing about any of this is that I know I’ve lost your friendship and my heart is broken over that. The truth is that I do believe you have made courageous moves in standing up for what is right and you are a good and wonderful and kind man. I’ve said that in all my interviews but that is not the message that writers and TV people want to hear from me; they want drama and they focus on the negative. They didn’t want to hear about my wanting people to have a different choice. Regardless, my team and I will step back and get on the track that I set from the beginning which has no place in attacking you. Again, I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me for allowing this to happen. From my camp, it will not happen again. You and I have spoken many times about believing that this is much bigger than you or I. I still believe that.
Some people may be cynical about this; I resist that conclusion. I do think that, as evident from the video, they have very different styles. I do not think that she has to worry about having lost Tait’s friendship; to me he seems more bemused than angry — and at base he’s a practical guy. I also believe that she fully believes that she’d be the more effective Mayor — but clearly she should have understood that he would not fold easily, if at all. (She likely did understand that — but something in the video still apparently unnerved her.)
Here’s what I posted on Facebook in response to her open letter:
I’m glad that Lorri Galloway issued the statement that she did today, following yesterday’s broadcast of the video in the link above (which all interested in Anaheim should watch.) My position remains that these are two good people, both of whom have the interests of the people (rather than campaign contributions) in mind, both of whom I want on the Anaheim Council dais next year — joined by a third (or as many as it takes to get a majority) so that they can finally govern. What a great thing it will be for Anaheim when that day comes.
I understand that Galloway plans to stay in the race. To me, that’s neither surprising nor disturbing. At this point, we’re more or less in “primary” mode (although both sides of the Anaheim political divide cross parties, with Republican Tait and Democrat Galloway generally opposing Democrat Jordan Brandman and Republicans Gail Eastman, Lucille King, and Kris Murray), so I understand the desire to see how things shake out. What we’re going through now. in a de facto primary struggle, is to be expected. It shouldn’t and needn’t be acrimonious — but unfortunately some acrimony (especially among excitable supporters) is to be expected as well.
What I really DON’T like is seeing attacks by one candidate on the other, among the faction that I favor, which will just become grist for future attack ads supporting the faction that I don’t. Galloway says in her letter that she “gets it” — and I’m glad for that! The problem — and this has stumped me from the outset — is that I’m just not sure, when her pitch is that she would be a more effective leader than Tait, HOW she can avoid what essentially become character attacks (even though they are aimed at supposed ineffectiveness rather than, as usual, dishonesty or capture by special interests.) I still don’t see a way around it — but she pledges to find one, and there is plenty of time available for people to listen to what she comes up with.
I like them both. I’m closer to Galloway on policy issues, but I like Tait’s style and integrity — and I do understand his unwillingness to take a humiliating “demotion.” I hope that they’ll both be viable a year from now. Especially given that Tait has no higher political ambitions, I think that their joint success is good for the interests of my own Democratic Party — as well as for what should be the real interests of the Republican Party. Sometimes the interests of the parties can align — usually when opposing people who are just out to raid the public’s money and abuse the public’s trust for their own narrow self-interest. No one needs that — Anaheim sure doesn’t!
The problem for Galloway, if she wants to ratchet down tensions, is that some of her supporters (including in local blogs) are simply lummoxes. Here’s some willful ignorance clumsily expressed by one of them today.
With due respect to Galloway, that’s nothing negative about reporting Tait’s ineffectiveness on the dais. The Mayor is not overwhelmingly popular as his minions would have you believe. In many ways, Tait suffers from Jerry Amante Syndrome; someone who wants strong mayor authority within a weak mayor system.
With a pending entry into the Mayor’s race by Council member Lucille Kring, Tait will be lucky to hold on to traditional OC GOP support. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he finishes third in a four horse race.
While a classy move by Galloway to apologize, there’s really nothing for her to apologize for. If anything, Tait should be apologizing to her for his supporters suggesting her only reason for running is to grease the skids of the Eli Home with more financial contributions. Public service to the citizens of Anaheim and work done on behalf of abused children are being politicized and that’s what’s shameful, not Tait’s “hurt” feelings.
He can always drown his sorrows with his drinking buddy from the OJ.
I think that I’ve heard of only one person even raise the “she’s just fundraising for Eli Home” idea and I don’t know that anyone believes it. (That person has no connection, so far as I know, to Tait.) I’m sure that Tait would disclaim that dubious notion immediately and without reservation. Maybe it’s time for Galloway to do the same with the Lummox quoted above — because he’s sure as hell not helping her with this sort of writing.
On to the merits: Tait is being outvoted 4-1. If one believes that Galloway would not be outvoted 4-1 on these same issues, then there’s something to her argument — but it’s simply hard to see how this group would be amenable to substantive compromise. They don’t need to, after all. They think that the money from all of the interests their supporting will elect them pretty much no matter what they do. (And they may be right!)
So while I can’t say that Galloway is wrong in this assertion, I think that it’s fair to say that she will find it tough to convince people that she’s right that she can someone bend the Pringle Ring enough to get them to abandon their master. I know from personal communications that she does have an argument to make on this point; I won’t recap it here, but it’s far from a slam dunk.
There is a divide, obviously, between those in the Democratic Party who think that Brandman, as the City Council’s only Democrat, should get to decide party policy on these issues — despite the fact that his political patron is avaricious Republican superlobbyist Curt Pringle and his three allies on the Council are all right-wing Republicans who are running for office in 2014 — and those of us who think that the tail of one elected official’s interested judgment should not be allowed to wag the dog of party policy. (I believe that you all know where I stand on that one.) But there’s another thing or two that lummoxes apparently don’t grasp.
The first, regarding the analysis of internal GOP politics, is that a lot of OC Republicans don’t like Curt Pringle, because he is primarily (and some would argue exclusively) out for himself. Among other things, he makes Republicans look bad. (This may explain his extreme interest in Brandman — as a sort of buffer to ensure that Democrats share some of the blame for what he does.) So Lummox’s analysis of Kring vs. Tait is foolish. The OCGOP does not look kindly on challenges to incumbents — and even if it did, a challenge to an incumbent over opposing funneling public money into Curt Pringle’s pockets is not likely to entice them.
But let me put on my partisan hat for a moment. As Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, my responsibility is not only to promote the party’s interests but to support candidates who are endorsed by the party — as Galloway would likely be — even if I personally disagree with that endorsement. (And I’m not saying that I would disagree with an endorsement of Galloway; she’s done much to deserve it. Brandman? Been there, done that.) But simply saying “Democrat good, Republican bad” is simplistic — and it’s a really poor strategy — unless you’re supporting Brandman’s supporting Pringle.
Here’s what I want: I want Galloway to be on the dais. I want Tait to be on the dais too because, like it or not, he is currently supporting traditional Democratic issues. I want them to be joined by a third like-minded person (and a fourth or fifth, if the Council expands.) So my question is: how do we accomplish that?
To analyze that, we have to consider the most important difference between Tait and Galloway. It’s not party; it’s not gender; it’s not race; it’s not height. It’s future political ambition.
Galloway is — and should be — an up-and-comer among Democratic politicians. Especially if she moves across the 55, she’s a credible candidate for Assembly when Daly moves on, for State Senate (probably depending on what happens with Solorio), Supervisor, and even for Congress, post-Loretta. (Not that there will ever be a post-Loretta, of course.) As I understand it (from those around her, not from her own mouth, and partly given previous races) she has political ambitions beyond being Mayor of Anaheim. As a Party official, my feeling is — WELL, SHE CERTAINLY SHOULD! That’s one reason we want gifted people to be elected to local office, so that they will eventually move into the county or state or federal legislature!
Galloway clearly has plenty of drive and confidence; I mean nothing negative — and indeed, nothing but positive — in describing her as politically ambitious. Unambitious people tend not to get elected.
But here’s the thing: Tait has no higher aspirations beyond being Mayor of Anaheim. He wants to be Mayor of Anaheim and nothing but Mayor of Anaheim. He likes what he can do in the position. He wants to remain in the area to run his business — which, unlike many businesses of local politicians, is an actual business. If re-elected, he’s not going anywhere. Maybe after re-election he might continue to sit on Council — but being termed-out is very different than taking a voluntary demotion, especially if one thinks that one is getting a bum rap.
So here’s my analysis at present: if Galloway were to forego the Mayor’s race, she would pretty much have to run for City Council so as not to become “old news.” She’s be answering the call of her party, and possibly literally saving the city for generations to come, among other things. Other than running for a County office, none of which besides Supervisor would clearly suit her, she doesn’t have a lot of other options. She says she wouldn’t run for Council. She may herself believe it. I don’t.
If Tait were to driven out of the Mayor’s race, I personally don’t think that he runs for Council. I know, I know — “why should I believe him?” I’ll tell you why: I go to those Council meetings. Being on the short end of a 4-1 majority is not fun — and the only thing that seems to make it tolerable for Tait is that he holds the perquisites of Mayor, including an enhanced ability to comment on things during meetings. Now, if his once and future ally Galloway is Mayor, that might not be so bad — but if not, I seriously doubt that he would want to sign up for a four-year stint of fortnightly humiliation by the likes of the current Council majority under Kring’s leadership. He doesn’t need this job — and he certainly doesn’t need that grief.
So my sense is that if Galloway shoulders aside Tait in the “reform caucus” primary, he just waves goodbye and leaves. And there goes pretty much any chance of a “reform” majority. That may put Galloway in Tait’s position, being outvoted 4-1 — and that is not good for her future ambitions.
If Tait edges away Galloway, however, she can still fight hard and tough from a minority position on Council — take principled stands and serve her ambition for higher office.
I don’t know that I’m right about all of this — and I’m sure that Galloway would eloquently and forcefully disagree — but if I’m right then Tait’s Mayoral candidacy is in the interests of the Democratic Party (which I maintain is aligned with reform, no matter what Brandman does) and in the interests of both Galloway and Tait. With a two-person coalition, maybe they successfully attract a dejected and resentful failed candidate Kring. Maybe party pressure grows on Brandman to give up his flirtation with the dark side and he joins them. (I’m not implacably opposed to Brandman; it all depends on what sort of person he turns out to be.) Maybe Eastman goes along with Galloway, especially if the temperature rises on scandal. The only Republican who seems inherently beyond inclusion in a reform majority is Murray.
Certain lummoxes have made sport of my arguing that I don’t want to see infighting between Galloway and Tait. They, as you can read above, want to see infighting. Galloway has shown that she’s smart enough to realize that it’s not good for her as well as not being good for either the Party or for reform efforts — all it does is give grist for campaign literature put out by anti-reformers. This suggests to me that certain lummoxes don’t really give much of a damn about liberal Lorri Galloway at all — but that their loyalty is truly with Brandman, which extremely unfortunately also in effect currently means with Pringle.
Galloway’s going to continue her campaign for now — and I can’t blame her. Maybe she’ll continue it forever — in which event (though he’ll never say so and might well be perturbed by my even raising the prospect) I suspect that Tait might drop out of the race if he wasn’t keeping pace, rather than split the vote and elect Kring. I just really don’t think that he’ll run for Council — though I think that he’d happily support Galloway for Mayor in 2018.
So what Galloway needs to figure out in the months to come is: are people like me, who have gamed this out and laid their cards on the table, ultimate her political enemies — or her friends? And are people who just want to use her as a means to drum Tait out of city government ultimately her political friends — or her enemies?
My opinion is probably obvious: I want her on City Council, as either regular member or Mayor. If Tait were willing to run for Council, I’d without hesitation want her as Mayor. But if he isn’t willing to lay down the gavel prematurely, then I just don’t see how pushing him aside works out well for her. I’m open to being convinced — but I don’t expect it to happen.
My fear right now is that I will end up supporting Galloway for Mayor — not only because of her party and her policies, but because next August Tait may have just decided that if people don’t appreciate what he’s done as Mayor, it’s time for him to step back from public life. I couldn’t really blame him. And as a Democrat — even one who disagrees with him on some serious issues — I think that that would be bad on the issues that currently matter most: issues of fairness, integrity, and honest service to the city.