Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is Bach writing a winning script?

Posted By on Wed, May 11, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Is the mayoral campaign over? With six days to go, and almost 45 percent of the ballots already received at the City Clerk’s office, it’s tempting to believe that the dice have been cast — we just don’t know the results.

At Monday’s “young professional” forum, Richard Skorman and Steve Bach met for the last time, and ran through their campaign scripts once again. There wasn’t much of interest for those of us who have suffered in silence through a dozen such events — indeed, the whole affair had a faintly melancholy tinge. Triumph awaits one candidate, while the other will endure valedictory interviews.

Bach seemed confident, enthusiastic, even manic. After the event, we talked about downtown revitalization.

“What will it take,” he asked rhetorically, “to bring the Sky Sox downtown?”

“Money,” I suggested.

“Not necessarily,” he replied. “There are ways to make deals, and that’s what I do — make deals.”

He then launched into a rapid-fire series of speculations, musing out loud on just how a deal could be structured and financed without tax money. It was an impressive performance, one that shows Bach is haunted (as are so many of us old-timers) by projects undone, dreams that failed, and great projects that somehow remain unrealized.

Skorman, who already has a legacy of accomplishment, was somewhat subdued. The recent Luce Research poll, which showed Bach with a comfortable lead, may have had a sobering effect — but Richard has always been a fighter. He’s not about to throw in the towel, especially with a base of support that may never be matched in any subsequent election.

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As of this morning, his campaign had raised $508,254.14 from 1,955 total contributors. That’s not just impressive — it’s phenomenal.

In any previous municipal election, Richard would be cruising to victory. But this one is different, and if he doesn’t make it, the game has changed ... perhaps forever.

For many decades, municipal elections have been controlled by a relatively small subclass of engaged voters. City employees, along with workers at Colorado Springs Utilities and Memorial Health System, were the most important bloc, joined by the usually moderate voters in 80903, 80904, 80906 and 80907. Voter turnout for the April elections was usually directly proportional to voter distance from the city’s core.

But this year, the combined impact of mail ballots and a runoff election may change the arithmetic. Conservative northeasterners may not have paid much attention years ago, when they had to make an unexpected April trek to their polling place, and choose between a half a dozen unaffiliated candidates. But now, in a high-profile race between two very different candidates, they need only stick a ballot in the mailbox. And given that they’re organized, responsible folks, they’ll do just that.

If their votes put Bach in the mayor’s office, subsequent candidates will follow his script. They’ll forget the whole nonpartisan thing, put aside relevant experience, and run on the issues that have always stirred the hearts of Springs voters:

Guns (I love ’em!)

Gays (No rights for the wicked!)

God (I’m a Christian!)

Life (I’m pro-life!)

Republican (Registered at birth!)

Taxes (My opponent loves ’em!)

Experience in government (I’m not a politician — I’m proudly ignorant of all things governmental!)

Partisan politics — ain’t it grand?

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