PB: Pre-Election Musings

by SDM

One of the more interesting aspects of political campaigns is the question of how involved one member of a council gets in the campaigns of other members.

The political calculus usually leads elected officials to follow a limited number of paths:

  • Publicly support your candidates and publicly oppose their opponents.
  • Say nothing publicly, privately support your candidates and oppose their opponents.
  • Play both sides.
  • Do nothing and mind your own business.

Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, the first path is an all-in kind of strategy. If your folks win, you reap a windfall of support. If one of your folks loses, then you’ve made an enemy…sometimes permanently. Because this strategy is so risky, experienced pols avoid it.

The second strategy is the most commonly followed and, at the same time, the most disavowed. Its obvious advantage is its flexibility. If your current colleague wins, you tell her you were with her all along. The losing candidate may blow your cover, but doing so is a bridge burner and only happens if the losing candidate thinks you double-crossed her. The disadvantage is such deviousness can and eventually will blow up in your face.

Playing both sides is often the path of lobbyists, but many supremely unprincipled elected officials do it, too. Like the second strategy, playing both sides is advantageous because your bets are hedged. The downside is that most people see through you and will discount your support accordingly.

Many pols with whom SDM has been acquainted over the years assiduously follow the last strategy. It’s advantage is neutrality, which is also its disadvantage. This is the political equivalent of choosing to live to fight another day.

In Palmetto Bay, Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, Councilwoman Joan Lindsay and Councilman Patrick Fiore have all chosen to publicly support their candidates and to oppose their candidates’ opponents.

SDM Wonders: How will Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Lindsay react if they find themselves in the minority with no ability to influence council actions? Conversely, how will Councilman Patrick Fiore react if he becomes a minority of one?

SDM Says: Because of the limited number of possible outcomes, the inevitable result appears to be an even more polarized and fractured village council. This time, SDM hopes to be wrong.

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