Setting Political Sights on Bloomberg’s Anti-Gun Mayors, Part III

One huge benefit to municipal races is that voter turnout is extremely low. Looking at Bucks County (most of the 8th Congressional District), we find that the county-wide 2007 municipal races had turnout of only 29% compared to 76% in November’s presidential race or even 57% in the last off-year Congressional election. In Montgomery County (most of the 13th Congressional District), voter turnout for municipal races in 2007 was at 30% as compared to the November general at 73% and 2006 Congressional (off-year) race at 55%.

Often, only the most active partisans may turn out for local elections if they are not held alongside major national races. This makes the prospect of giving the boot to local mayors even easier – and sometimes the threat of a challenge is even more useful than an actual get out the vote effort.

If you live in one of the towns governed by a Bloomberg mayor or know a gun owner who does, it may not be hard to turn an election. Get the rest of your family to vote, and tell your friends about the other candidates who may be more friendly to your Second Amendment rights. You may single-handedly turn it into a landslide. Imagine the impact putting a flier in the local gun shop where all the local sportsmen hang out. In an election when many of them aren’t likely turning out to the polls, they might suddenly become a local voting bloc worthy of some campaign time.

Of course, the other benefit to local government is that it may not even require defeating the mayor in an election. The candidates and parties know turnout is consistently a problem. Angering residents for no reason is something they cannot afford to do. One or two phone calls from upset residents may be enough to convince them to leave. A handful of phone calls in the mayor’s office will really shake things up in mid-sized town. If the town has a gun club, even better. Have members call regardless of where they live. They can still claim to be involved with the town, and more importantly, they would be happy to spread word about such anti-gun views come campaign time. There’s a good chance that local mayors have no idea what Mayor Bloomberg has signed them onto, and reason will likely prevail.

Consider the situation with former Williamsport, PA mayor Mary Wolf who very publicly left the group in 2007. This New York Sun article talks to a local gun dealer who found out about her membership and made an issue out of it. Imagine a few signs up at the gun range, getting staff or club officers to let all the residents who come in know about a mayor’s involvement. Use some choice quotes from the ads and letters Bloomberg signed their names to during the Thune debate.

Finally, one of the biggest benefits to local races is the fact that you are closer to most of the other voters. If you know what’s pissing your neighbors off, encourage them to get out to the polls on that issue. Don’t restrict yourself to talking about gun rights. Change begins at home, and you know better than some worker down in Fairfax what’s really got the non-gun owners on your block upset. Remember, just like you probably don’t vote in municipal elections, they probably don’t, either. That means your whole neighborhood just put itself on the map for better treatment and more attention from local officials. (Remember, they can tell who voted. To the winners go the spoils, so get yourself some spoils by simply showing up.)

With only 1,921 people in all of Industry, would it really take much pressure to convince Mayor Nicholas Yanosich that he should stand up for the Constitution instead of against it?

Isn’t it possible to get word out to Mayor Jay Stover in Telford that he shouldn’t be working against the rights of his 4,680 citizens?

Keep in mind, these numbers are a matter of population, registered voters are far fewer.

8 thoughts on “Setting Political Sights on Bloomberg’s Anti-Gun Mayors, Part III”

  1. I have mixed emotions about this strategy. First, while it is sound in principle, I have seldom seen it work. Second, a motivated Second Amendment constituency is usually a lot smaller than we want to believe. (The keyword is “motivated.”) Third, when “single issue” local candidates do succeed in getting elected, they are often incompetent or uninterested in any other issues, and can make jokes out of themselves — and often of their pet issue, by association.

    The examples I saw this work best for, in terms of just getting elected, were when Christian constituencies were employing the “stealth” strategy to get into office. With that and the abortion issue, they could often run an underground campaign with the large congregations of local churches, if only putting flyers on the windows of cars on church parking lots. But even that approach petered out after awhile — except possibly in the Bible Belt — probably because of the “competency” factor.

    In the case of Second Amendment issues, we don’t have that high a correlation with “other” issues, so we’re stuck with campaigning at clubs and gunshops, hoping we motivate enough people and everything else falls in place.

    All that said, it is worth noting that in Pennsylvania you can often get onto the ballot for a municipal election, by getting as few as ten write-in votes in the primary election, when no one has filed for that office. I have known people who discovered a target of opportunity while working the primary polls for someone else, started their own write-in campaign on the spot, got on the fall ballot with fewer than 20 votes, and won a seat on a municipal board or council. Unfortunately with most of them the competency issue kicked in after they were elected.

  2. Those are fair concerns, but I also think they stem from things you read into the post, as opposed to things I actually wrote.

    First, Sebastian and I are far too aware of the actual impact of a strict Second Amendment constituiency. It’s rather depressing when it really doesn’t have to be. But, you’re right that the key word is motivated. Most of the gun owners in these towns probably have no idea what their mayor is involved in. I would venture to guess that a reasonable number may be motivated with that information.

    Of course, that’s why I actually prefer motivating folks before it’s time to hit the ballot box. If a dozen folks call the mayor long before the election and ask him/her to drop Bloomberg, then we don’t actually have to show our cards. But, it will create a strong perception before the ballots are ever counted.

    As for the limits on our organizing ability, that’s why I also included suggestions for what gun owners could do, but also an example of that tactic that did work to convince a mayor to drop Bloomberg’s group. If you turn to the range and club resources now, it’s possible that the group will be dropped by time the first campaign signs go up.

    Not relying on a dedicated sportsmen’s/Second Amendment vote is also why I encouraged folks to look at other local issues. Is there discontent with a local service? Local taxes or fees? School problems? Crime concerns? There’s a whole host of issues you can use to motivate other voters. I’ve always been of the attitude that gun owners can make a difference in an election, but never have I argued that we can win without other coalitions – whether left or right. No coalition group is strong enough to win an election completely on its own.

    And to address your point about single issue candidates, I definitely did not endorse that idea. In fact, you’ll notice I specifically stayed away from the issue of the alternative in this post because it is complicated. First, there’s the fact that it’s too late to even run a single issue candidate if one wanted to with the party primaries already over here in Pennsylvania. Second, there are few groups that do any kind of survey of municipal candidates. (It’s tough to find out who they are, and it’s crazy expensive in most states.) There’s not a guarantee that you might not get someone worse unless you talk to that candidate personally.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a super easy answer. It’s also why I pointed out in the first post that getting a mayor to step down won’t likely be as easy as putting up some blog posts as in the case of Uncle with Bill Haslam. This a little trickier, and I don’t pretend for one second to have all of the answers. But, I will have a couple more posts on the topic that emphasize why local gun owners should try to – at the very least – start a small phone campaign to convince their mayor to resign. It’s not just about hurting Bloomberg’s group, there are some serious implications for the spread of this group in Pennsylvania if you look at other gun trends. I also have a couple of examples of statements Bloomberg made in the name of the PA mayors that gun owners may be able to reference with some success in a phone campaign.

  3. I think in this type of case you can’t really play the single issue card. Play it with gun owners, but play other issues with non-gun owners. I agree that floating a single issue candidate would be a bad idea. I wouldn’t take it that far. I don’t think you have to.

  4. Good on Frank Tripoli, I had no idea he was the one to lead that effort, but I do remember the stink being raised about it. Mary Wolf is no longer mayor of Williamsport either, BTW. I will note that none of her successors have signed on to Nanny Bloomberg’s group.

  5. Mary Wolf is no longer mayor of Williamsport either, BTW.

    Hence, why I said: former Williamsport, PA mayor Mary Wolf.

  6. Bitter, Sebastian:

    Both good replies, clarifying (for dummies like me) and expanding on Bitter’s original post.

    I think the key feature of the strategy is to use the candidacy to scare the hell out of the offending politician, and those like him/her, while at the same time letting him know why he’s being challenged. It is probably personal taste on my part, but I generally advise people to avoid candidacies themselves because the ego-trip of running for office is often debilitating, undercutting the original “cause.” I’m sure we all know “activists” that turned into “perennial candidates,” or started waffling on their causes because they thought it would help them win an election.

    I believe all paths (except write-ins) to candidacy are closed (as of August 1?) for Pennsylvania, but for those convinced running for office is the route they want to take, it is worth keeping in mind for the future that it is relatively easy to get on municipal ballots as an independent or minor party candidate, requiring at most a couple hundred signatures on ballot petitions, and you have almost all summer to do it. You cannot have been registered with a political party as of the spring primaries, though.

    My personal advice would be to avoid the baggage of a minor party, in that scenario, and to be strictly independent, but that’s a whole other essay.

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