When buying political office in Dayton, don’t buy local: Whaley spends out of town

The post election campaign finance reports were due Friday.

The Dayton Daily weighed in claiming this the most expensive race ever, if you add in the in-kind donations the Whaley campaign took in:

Whaley raised $364,969 and spent $411,656, according to reports filed beginning in January 2013. She spent more than she took in because of carry-over amounts from 2012

A.J. Wagner raised $122,190 and spent $140,888 during the same period. His report includes $10,000 loans from Zafar Rizvi of Butler Twp. and Michael Oberer of Washington Twp.

Together the two candidates raised $487,159 in cash and spent $552,544. By comparison, spending for the the Turner-Rhine McLin match totaled $770,000.

But while that 2001 race still wins as far as overall spending, using another measure, Whaley may very well have run the city’s most expensive mayoral bid for a single candidate. “In-kind” contributions – which are services or things of value, such as production cost for mailers or food donated for events provided to a campaign – save the campaign from having to spend money on those items and services. If the value of those in-kind contributions are included with Whaley’s total cash contributions she easily tops Turner’s spending in the 2001 race, with $532,640 in expenditures and in-kind contributions.

via Dayton Mayor candidates spent nearly $500k | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

All that money, to get a measly 9,211 votes and a record low turnout of 16,334. For comparison, 4 years ago, Gary Leitzell won the office over Rhine McLin with 15,316 while spending around $20,000.

When you take Whaley’s $532,640 and divide it by number of votes, she spent an astonishing: $57.83 per vote. Wagner, spent $19.78 per vote to get 7,123 votes.

Looking over the reports a few things:

  • Mims and Williams reports are incomplete, missing their expenditure pages.
  • Greer’s report says he spent $4,414.19- but only has listed $300 expense to Dayton Weekly News- suggesting he was doing totals for the campaign- not the period (which was only from Oct. 18 to Dec. 6, 2013.)
  • A.J. lists his vendors, right down to everyone he paid to stand out at the polls on election day. Nan’s lists vendors- who then subcontracted work- so you don’t know what she really paid for or to whom. Apparently, her friend Gen Murphy runs a temporary services company now- since she paid her $1,000 for “election day services” which is a nice way of obfuscating who got paid on election day.

Whaley spends big money with out-of-town people:

  • Ohio Democratic Party 10/17/13 $22,971.09 Contribution 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215
  • The New Media Firm 10/18/13 $4,905.50 Media 1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 213 Washington DC 20036
  • Momentum Analysis 10/19/13–$1,000.00 Consulting Fee 1508 Monroe Street, NW Washington DC 20010
  • The New Media Firm 10/23/13 $36,003.18 Media — 1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 213 Washington DC 20036
  • Ohio Democratic Party 10/29/13 $18,384.51  Contribution 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215
  • JVA Campaigns 10/29/13 $7,293.70 Media  1301 Dublin Road, Suite 302 Columbus OH 43215
  • The New Media Firm 10/29/13 $14,236.75 Media  1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 213 Washington DC 20036
  • Ohio Democratic Party 10/30/13 $6,204.43 Payroll Service 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215
  • JVA Campaigns 10/30/13 $2,250.00 Media 1301 Dublin Road, Suite 302 Columbus OH 43215 1486
  • Ohio Democratic Party10/31/13 $12,022.84  Contribution 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215

Note, this is all within a 2-week period- and tells us nothing of what she was actually buying. Mailings, TV time, volunteers- we have no idea.

And, there are media buying firms in Dayton who have a lot more experience buying media in our market. Considering the regular commission for placing TV and Radio by an agency- is 15%- this is $54,897.90 in buys, sending $8,234 out of our community to DC or Columbus- and that was just the money on media- what the ODP did with their $59,582.87 in two weeks, we’ll never know.

The real question is where have all the voters gone? 4 years ago 29,750 people made a decision on who would be mayor. This year, 16,334. Did we really lose 13,416 voters? Or were that many people non-plussed by the choices?

Four years ago I got 9,440 votes. That’s 229 more votes than Whaley won with. Had I drawn the same number this time, I would have come in 2nd to Williams and you’d be calling me commissioner.

  • Jeffrey J. Mims Jr. 8,698 30.94%
  • Joey D. Williams 10,333 36.76%

It was also interesting that the Dayton Daily News didn’t mention anything about Mims having to quit his elected position on the state school board – giving the Republican Governor yet another appointee, until after the election. It was on Nov. 17th in an article written by the Akron Beacon Journal:

Just one board member — Jeffrey Mims of Dayton — is African American, and Mims is resigning from the board after getting elected to the Dayton City Commission Nov. 5. Mims is also a Democrat, meaning the board could add another Republican when Gov. John Kasich names his replacement.

Just two of the 17 members reside in urban school districts, and one of the two is the departing Mims.

via Obscure board has big impact on school policy | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

A minor detail, conveniently overlooked, despite my asking Jeremy Kelley of the DDN what happens to Mims school board seat in our pre-general election interviews.

A few other interesting details on the reports:

Whaley got a sizable donation well after the election from the CEO of CareSource:

  • Pamela Morris Lemmon 10736 Falls Creek Ln. Dayton OH 45458 11/18/13 Check $1,500.00

Is this to help grease wheels for more taxpayer-funded construction for CareSource- which is hauling in windfall money thanks to the Affordable Care Act?

And, will Oberer Development still be doing their development with city support on Warren Street since Mike Oberer extended a $10K loan to A.J.? Rumor had it that George Oberer got a call from Nan threatening further support for them working in the city if they continued to support her.

His report includes $10,000 loans from Zafar Rizvi of Butler Twp. and Michael Oberer of Washington Twp.

Dayton Mayor candidates spent nearly $500k | www.mydaytondailynews.com

To download and look at the reports yourself, go to the MCBoe.org site: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/candidate_tools/CF_Reports/ and select 2013, and 2013 Post General.






Ten thousand dollars reached. Ten thousand thank yous.

Last night, the last donation came in. 9 days before the election, and I reached the goal of $10,000. Any donation from this point on- would go for nets, rims, backboards, tools to clean up courts and to cut off nasty old rusted hardware.

If you look at my campaign finance report: David Esrati PreGeneral Report 2013 PDF you’ll see that the money was spent responsibly. Some may argue that much of the money came back to my own company- The Next Wave, as if I’m paying myself to run- however, when you compare it to others- you’ll realize I spent a lot less on printing, website development, video production etc. – because, I do a lot of it myself. I manage my own campaign (not the smartest way to go)- I edit and post my own videos (other than the interns who did the hoops video) and I maintain my own site- and post to it too. I do my own social media- etc. It’s a hands-on campaign. I even cook for my own fundraisers- and if you missed my pancakes- or chicken parmigiana, you missed out.

The real question is- what good is a $10K campaign if you don’t win? The answer is- it’s not. But, the idea that my principles haven’t been compromised is priceless to me. Of course, when it comes to politics- principles left the building long ago in this country.

Back in 1999 I ran against Bootsie Neal and Dean Lovelace in a 3-way race. Dean raised and spent $12K, Bootsie did $10K and I ran on $7k. When the votes came in- Dean had 12,000, Bootsie 10,000 and I had 7,000. It came in almost exactly at $1 a vote. I was disgusted, but I don’t give up that easily.

The real eye opener has been the Internet- both from a standpoint of being able to directly communicate with so many- and the advent of tools like CiviCRM. Working on the first Obama campaign I got a good look at how data was used to target voters. It changed my perception of how to run an effective campaign. The second epiphany was in my last run in Dayton 4 years ago (2 years ago my petitions came up a few signatures short) was that many of the voters I needed to reach weren’t online. To most of you reading this- that’s almost inconceivable. I knew I had to do something totally different to reach voters who aren’t connected.

The basketball net idea wasn’t fully formed when I began this campaign. In fact, after the bruising year I had last year, I almost wasn’t going to run. Had it not been for Terry Posey pushing with a donation and Gary Leitzell needing candidates and the fact that I’d already given up a relationship that was important to me partially over this- the smart thing would have been to not run. But here I am. $10K raised, a ton of doors knocked on. New friends in barber shops all over town, and more thank yous than I’ve ever heard in a campaign- mostly from people too young to vote.

Even if I lose- because of my choice to invest in actions over words with the “hoops Dayton” campaign- Dayton is a better place.

To everyone of you who’ve donated, I am humbled. To the few people who’ve donated nets and rims- those were the best donations because they empowered me to change the city one small bit toward my vision of what Dayton can be. And to those of you who stepped up and helped hang rims, clean up courts, hang nets and walk and talk to people- actions speak louder than words- and I can’t thank you enough.

The last push is this week. I still have a few low-budget tricks up my sleeve, but, mainly I need all of you to spread the word to your friends who are voters in Dayton- to urge them to give me a chance to represent them. To have someone who will work tirelessly to restore pride and respect in and for Dayton. To change the way we think of government and what it can do for us- to make Dayton a place where people want to live, invest, work and play- regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, religion, nationality or moral compass.

If you want to volunteer- I have literature and walk lists. On election day, I need people to stand outside the polls and talk to voters. If you can or want to do either – call me at 985-1312 or write [email protected]

10,000 thank yous.

And special thanks to Ryan- for being the final donor.

Now- someone can test to see if you can still donate over the goal…. so we have some money for rims. I was at Washington Park yesterday morning- 2 backboards had no rims. I can fix that with a few hundred dollars.

What the big money in the Dayton “primary” meant

Since the campaign finance reports rolled out, I’ve held back from analyzing or discussing them, because, frankly, it’s poor form to talk poorly about someone right after the funeral. That someone is democracy, and if this is a harbinger of the future of Dayton politics, we may as well just stop having elections and auction off the public offices.

The May 7, 2013 “special election” did more damage to any hope of regionalism than anything I can think of. No suburban jurisdiction is ever going to feel that it can be represented in an election where a third of a million dollars buys 75% of the votes?

Mayor Leitzell spent a paltry $2K on his campaign, with probably 1/3 of it on literature printing with my firm, The Next Wave, and half of it on postage. He did a little analysis on Nan Whaley’s and A.J. Wagner’s spending in two posts, Nan first:

285 donations out of 730 total were from outside the region. That is 39%. Of the $169,384 that those 730 people or entities contributed, $89,181 was from outside the region. That is 52.6%. Her “in kind” donations totaled $43,032 and of that, $42,592 came from outside the region. Mostly from Columbus, for a total of 98.9%.

Much of her money came from outside Ohio. Some from Washington D.C. and some from New York. She held fundraising events in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and in Indiana. One should be asking why money for a nonpartisan local election needs to come from outside the region.

Now I think that it is great that she was able to bring over $89,000 to the local area from other places. It could be used to boost the local economy. However that was not the case. Of the $212,767 that she spent on her campaign, $196,843 or 92.5% of the total was spent OUTSIDE the region!

via Dayton Mayor: Nanonomics 101.

and then on AJ’s:

A.J. Wagner raised $9,520 of his $78,442 from outside the region. That is 12% of his total. However, like the other Democratic party candidate, he spent most of his campaign funds OUTSIDE the region. Of the $96,678 spent on his campaign in cash spending, $63,194 was spent with businesses outside the Dayton area. I consider Yellow Springs and Xenia to be inside the area but not Columbus or Washington, D.C. That is a total of 65%. His “in kind” donations totaled $5,100 and that was all derived from local contributors.

via Dayton Mayor: Wagnernomics 101.

As an award-winning advertising professional, what amazed me the most was that both campaigns bought TV- for a local race. Television is a broadcast medium- it covers a broad area, meaning most of people having to suffer through their horrible ads (they were both really bad) weren’t even able to vote for either candidate. Channel 7 reaches from Springfield to Eaton, Celina to Middletown. It’s called overspend and overreach and shows that neither candidate (or their campaign advisers) knows or cares about efficiency.

One of the most interesting articles I’ve seen lately about marketing and campaigns was a long piece in the N.Y. Times that showed how the Obama campaign spent about 35% less than the Romney campaign by using big data to find the most cost-effective buys. They figured out, using combinations of psychographics and new media’s social graph, that they’d get more bang for their buck by targeting marginally informed voters who watch things like Judge Judy than those who already are informed and watch the much more expensive national news. Not only that, going to Washington to buy media in Dayton is an insult to local media professionals who have more experience negotiating rates and schedules in Dayton than any outsider ever would.  But that was par for the course.

Both candidates used vendors outside our community for their sites, and paid exorbitantly for them. Nan spent a fortune on mailings, but was smart enough not to put Gary’s photo on half of them like her former best friend Rhine McLin did in her epic loss to Gary Leitzell four years ago where she outspent him 6-1.

The oddest thing was that A.J.’s ads trotted out Rhine McLin as a supporter. Considering he only beat Gary by a few hundred votes, it will be interesting to see if he continues this “strategy” in the general election in November.

The big question is will either candidate be able to continue to raise money in the same manner. Nan now has her “commanding win” in the primary and some donors may feel fleeced by her wild spending and ridiculous cost per vote of $52. A.J. may look like an underdog with no chance who still had to spend nearly as much per vote. Considering both are old school Montgomery County Democrats used to being handed elections in the back room deals that the party favors, the major rift is going to be within the local party and to see if the union membership is going to actually work hard for either candidate (some union members felt betrayed going with the young pup Whaley who has been on the scene for a minute compared to their old friend A.J., and have told me that the bosses may back Whaley because they are afraid of her money and friends like Sherrod Brown, but they will be voting for A.J.).

Neither Joey Williams or Jeff Mims did much but ride the coattails of the Whaley machine, counting on her GOTV (Get out the vote) machine and their inclusion on an early mailer and the Endorsed Democratic Party Slate card that she also sent out. Since both actually did better than Whaley in actual votes, it will be interesting to see how much more they campaign and what will happen when the Whaley and Wagner campaigns start trying to differentiate their positions.

I’d love to take the time to analyze some of Whaley’s donors and their motives, to see how much money is coming in from demolition contractors, landfill operators, health care networks- the people she likes to take care of with our public money, but, since there is no reporting of employers in local filings, it would take a long time- and I’ve got a campaign to run.

I spent about $3,500 in the primary, which was higher than I wanted to, partially because of postage and printing joint pieces with the Mayor and the other independent Democrat David K. Greer. I’m about $40 shy of the halfway mark of $5,000 in my campaign fund and after I hit $10K will start looking for charities to donate any overage to.

What is most critical is really knocking on doors and organizing volunteers right now. If you’d like to help either donate, or volunteer, please head over to electesrati.com and sign up.

We shouldn’t have auctions instead of elections, and we most certainly deserve better than the best politicians money can buy. It’s too bad the Mayor didn’t knock on a few hundred more doors, invest in a single robo-call reminder to his supporters or let me put the election date on the big signs we had (he wanted us to be able to use them in the fall), because now, he’s on the sidelines.

Just think, 300 more votes and Leitzell would have beat Wagner and the 300 to 1 spending  odds. That would have been close to historic and proof that politics doesn’t have to be decided by selling out to special interests and outsiders.

Esrati post primary campaign finance report

Better late than never. Here it is- the numbers are a little higher than I’d like- mostly due to mistakenly mailing postcards to people who voted early in person (although, with the number of them that returned, we’re going to have to do a little investigation).

We’ve taken in some donations post deadline, since we’ve got our donation system back online. I spent $4,234.60 in the primary, for 2,087 votes. I spent about $2.03 a vote, a far cry from the $50 a vote the Mayoral “winners” spent. That leaves me $5,800 to work with. For the record, Jeff Mims spent $4,836.87 on the primary to get 5,282 votes, and Joey Williams spent $3,733.90 to get 6,384 votes, although both were riding on Nan’s coattails with her quarter million dollar “campaign.”

If you count that some of my postage and printing also promoted the other Dayton Independent Candidates, Greer and Leitzell, if I had been reimbursed, it would have cut about $500 off the total.

I’ll be turning in the autographed version in the morning, but here is the PDF in a readable format for you to review: Elect Esrati Post primary Campaign finance report 16JUN13

I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and November. If you want at least one independent voice on the commission who doesn’t spend like a drunken sailor on a campaign, using vendors from out of state (both Nan and AJ hired DC firms to place their media buys- as if local Dayton media buyers don’t know this market better), please consider donating- the button is on the right.

With the exception of some campaign supplies- all my printing, vendors are local. I reinvest in my community.

Esrati screws up. Missed campaign filing deadline

I’ve been reconstructing the database of donors on my site. Apparently, I misread the deadline, which was today- the 14th- as the 24th and thought I had more time to finish rebuilding my campaign finance report from the documentation I had.

I’m sorry.

The finance reports are up- and show an ungodly amount of money spent by A.J. Wagner and Nan Whaley.

You can look for yourself here: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/candidate_tools/CF_Reports/cf_reports.cfm

I’ll leave it to the Dayton Daily News to tell you what they spent. I’ve got a campaign finance report to do.

Thank you for your understanding and support.

The Special Election Sweepstakes Contest: place your bets

A.J. Wagner was telling me on Thursday night after the State of the City address that Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Steve Harsman predicts that the results will be done by 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7.

I understand statistics, and I understand predictions based on prior elections, but, we’ve not had a primary in Dayton City Commission races in 20 years, and even then, never had three well known candidates. When Richard Clay Dixon was challenged by 5 others including me- no one knew who Mike Turner was. And there definitely wasn’t this kind of spending- Mayor Dixon had raised $28,000 which was a really large sum- and that was after the primary that had him facing Turner.

Nan Whaley raised and spent well over $100,000 in the primary. She’s sent absentee ballot requests, early voting requests, and a mailing almost every other day for the last two weeks. The question is, will it cause people to go vote? Dayton doesn’t have any tax levy on the ballot- so it’s not about hitting voters in their wallets. There was even a mass mailing by the BOE to tell everyone their polling place had changed (yet again). So- statistics really don’t exist.

To make this fun- here is what I propose, a 2-part poll contest. Winner gets me to make them my famous chicken parmigiana (I’ll deliver it to your house to do the finish bake if you don’t want to eat with me, or I’ll do the dinner here. Serves up to 8 people of your choice.)

Guess where Nan comes in, 1st, 2nd or 3rd, and dollars spent per vote. Dollars per vote will have to be determined after the next campaign finance report is due Post-Primary June 14, 2013, to disclose activity through June 7, 2013. (The MCBOE link is to a dead page on the SOS site: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/candidate_tools/campaign_finance.html > http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/CampaignFinance/filingRed/CFGuide/Resources/CurrentYearCalendar.aspx – the SOS isn’t doing us much better- with a link to a pdf http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/CampaignFinance.aspx > http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/candidates/Calendar2013.pdf) Dinner to be delivered on any Saturday or Sunday night before July 4 2013.
To give an instant post election prize- predict turnout too- and the person who gets the closest on turnout and Nan’s position wins a brand new in the box, last generation ipod shuffle.

So- format for entry: 3rd, $19,83 and 12, 850 that’s Nan Whaley’s position after the primary, total spent by Nan per vote she received and total turnout (ballots cast).

Trying to pick winners and losers in this 3-way race is very hard, since Nan and A.J. may split the long-time Democratic voters, Gary gets the Republicans, Independents, people who like what he’s done without 2 other votes of support, plus the voters who are just voting against the ridiculous money being thrown at this race. The final separation of votes could be another betting option- with it coming down to less than a hundred between places. (feel free to throw the final spread between either top and bottom or bottom 2 vote getters- make sure you label your numbers correctly :)

The Sweepstakes for Dayton are now open. Pundits, sharpen your pencils.

And one last note: There is a $1,000 bounty out for anyone who records a call  or person from a campaign offering Dayton voters any kind of incentive to go vote on Tuesday, such as a free meal, a bus pass, or cash. Rides to the polls are ok, but, any other talk of an incentive on the way to the polls- is cash in your pocket.

It’s candidates like Nan Whaley who cause “right-to-work” (for less) bills

When the Montgomery County Democratic Party chose to endorse Nan Whaley in the May 7 “primary/run-off” election, instead of endorsing both her and longtime Dem A.J. Wagner, they made a major mistake. Two candidates will advance after May 7- so, they could have endorsed two, but since they aren’t really there to elect Dems- just their inner circle, they alienated a lot of people, including some of the unions. A few of the union leaders said that they’d endorse her, but vote for him. He’s been around a lot longer.

But, never mind their rank and file’s preference, three unions contributed $10K each, and a bunch more tossed at least $1,000 her way. She’s been spending it like crazy, mailings, robo-calls, TV, radio, yard signs etc. She’s already probably spent as much in the last 8 weeks as Rhine McLin spent 4 years ago to get beat by Gary Leitzell, over the whole campaign- and we’ve still got 6 months to go.

This kind of money and foot soldiers scares Republicans- who can usually count on a few rich people to donate large sums, but can’t get 10 volunteers to go out and canvass, while the unions supply cash and shoe leather.

So once again, Republican Ohio lawmakers are trying to level the playing field:

Republican state Reps. Ron Maag, of Lebanon, and Kristina Roegner, of Hudson, plan to introduce two bills — one for the public sector and one for the private sector — that would end mandatory membership and dues payments to unions. In letters seeking support from House members, the representatives wrote that their respective bills would eliminate any requirements that public employees join or pay dues to unions and prohibit private employers from requiring union membership.

via Two state reps plan to introduce right-to-work bills.

The sad thing is, this is nothing new. My father supported Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota for the Democratic nomination for president in 1968. The union decided to back and give money to LBJ. He went to the American Civil Liberties Union and complained when the Cleveland Newspaper Guild gave a dime per capita to COPE (The AFL-CIO’s Committee for Political Education, which backed the re-election of LBJ). Nothing became of it.

If unions stayed out of politics, and stuck to improving the conditions for their workers, maybe, we wouldn’t see union dues being turned into a political football.

It’s going to be especially sad when the voters tell Nan that she’s not ready to be mayor of Dayton no matter how much of other people’s money she squanders on her inane campaign. It’s time to send a message to politicians and unions alike- stop trying to buy your way into office and screw up our democratic system. Big money isn’t the answer. Better answers are.

Donations to Whaley from Labor (this campaign only):

  • AFSCME Ohio Council 8 LA1273 6800 North High Street Worthigton OH 43085 3/13/13 check $10,000.00
  • Ohio State Association Plumbers & Pipefitters PCE 947 Goodale Blvd., Suite 209 Columbus OH 43212 2/23/13 Check $2,500.00
  • Communications Workers of America Ohio Legislative Action Committee LA166 20525 Center Ridge Rd., No. 700 Rocky River OH 1/24/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Communications Workers of America Ohio Legislative Action Committee LA166 20525 Center Ridge Rd., No. 700 Rocky River OH 3/15/13 Check $10,000.00
  • Laborers Dis. Council of Ohio·LPL 152 Dorchester Sq., Westerville OH 43081 3/1/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Dayton Area Sheet Metal Workers PEC OHlOSS 4949 Northcutt Place, Dayton OH 45414 3/22/13 Check $100.00
  • Plumbers & Pipefitters U62 SSFPCE local, 1200 E. second Street, Dayton OH 45403 3/22/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Ironworkers Local 290 290 PCE 606, Hillrose Ave., Dayton OH 45404 3/27/13 Check $100.00
  • OAPSE AFSCME Turnaround Ohio PAC LA 1269, 6805 Oak Creek Drive, Columbus OH 43.Z29 4/2/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen PAC C00099234, 1370 Ontario St., Cleveland OH 44113 4/4/13 Check $500.00
  • United Food and Commercial workers International Union, CLC Active Ballot Club C00020, 766 1775 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20060 4/10[13 Check $10,000.00
  • Ironworkers Political Action League Multi Candidate Committee C00027359, 1750 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C., 20006 4/15/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Dayton Area Sheet Metal Workers PEC OHlOSS, 4949 Northcutt Place, Dayton OH 45414 2/2.8/13 Check $250.00
  • Dayton Building Trades Council PCE, 1200 E. 2nd Street, Dayton OH 45403 12/29/12 Check $100.00
  • Ironworkers Local 290 PCE, 606 Hillrose Ave., Dayton OH 45404 12/03/12 Check $500.00
  • Dayton Building Trades Council PCE, 1200 E. 2nd Street, Dayton OH 45403 12/06/12 Check $250.00
  • Plumbers & Pipefitters Local #162 PCE, 1200 E. 2nd Street, Dayton OH 45403 12/06/12 Check $1,000.00
  • Dayton Area Sheet Metal Workers Political Education Committee OH1055, 4949 Northcutt Place, Dayton OH 45414 12/17/12 Check $300.00

I’m not even going to total it up – someone else can.

From her 2013 pre-primary and her 2012 annual campaign finance reports.

Do you wonder why Republicans want to kill unions? It’s about protecting their jobs.


The May 7 election question: what is critical mass for the big idea?

You won’t see me, David Greer or Mayor Leitzell on a tv commercial between now and May 7. In fact, you won’t ever see us on a broadcast tv spot. It’s a stupid waste of campaign money. Why? TV stations cover the entire region- from Celina to Middletown, Eaton to Springfield. We only need to reach a very small subset of that audience- Dayton voters, and even a smaller subset of those, the ones who vote in primaries.

Seth Godin asked this question on Thursday:

How big is critical mass?

It’s classified.

There’s a certain mass and size of plutonium that you need to create in order to start a nuclear reaction… a reaction that tips, that spreads, that cycles out of control.

In the idea business, critical mass is the minimum size of the excited audience that leads to a wildfire. People start embracing your idea because, “everyone else is…”

via Seth’s Blog: How big is critical mass?.

The difference between our low-budget, unconventional, shared campaign and Nan Whaley and AJ Wagner’s hyper-powered political slugfest, is that we have a central idea for ours- that politics is local, personal, and about an idea- more than about us. The idea is that business as usual in Dayton politics has to end, and campaigns have to be about ideas, not dollars. Our idea- that three independent candidates who don’t owe anyone any political favors, can transform Dayton.

Nan and AJ just want to get elected. Then, they promise, their self-professed visionary leadership will lead us to the promised land of jobs, better education and no more blighted homes. The problem is, we, and you, have all heard that same promise every time, there is an election. How’s it worked in the past?

The big idea in the Independent Dayton campaign is that if enough Dayton voters hear our message, that elections shouldn’t be run like auctions, and that you really can’t do anything new, if your support comes from people who aren’t the ones who elect you (seriously, there aren’t many actual Dayton residents writing checks for over $250 to any of the candidates, that kind of money- even when donated to my campaign is from outside the city). That’s a big idea and a major change right off the bat.

You won’t hear any of us promise that government is going to create jobs, or be able to catch up with the blight. Only someone who takes money from a gambling PAC that wants to build a racino will tell you that. We will tell you that if we deliver great services, and make our city sound like a forward thinking city that put a stop to auctioning off our city commission seats, the rest of the world may take notice and believe that our community has turned a corner that the rest of the country wishes it could- take the big money out of politics.

After the short cycle of the primary, we will produce our own video about the campaign. To tell you a story of our vision for Dayton, it will be one that is worthy of the whole world watching. It will let you know that Dayton is back. We’ve got water, workers and the wisdom to end the silliness of big money politics. Our solutions don’t fit in a :30 spot, it will be at least a few minutes long, and it will inspire you. Note: we’ve already put up many hours of straight video on Independent Dayton- of all the candidates nights, and our “Ghostlight Sessions” where we answered questions, none of the big money candidates did anything like this. Instead, they are going to hit you over the head with these :30 ads about why they are great.

Any questions?
I hope on May 7, Dayton voters say no to one of these (I always say to vote for the people with the lowest average donation) candidates and we move forward with a real discussion of Dayton’s future.

The question is, in the next 10 days, can the Independent Dayton team hand deliver enough of our campaign materials and reach enough Dayton primary voters with our limited budget? Some of it is up to you- will you share this with every Dayton voter you know? Remember, no one gets elected on May 7- we just narrow the choices. One of these big money candidates will still be on the ballot, and possibly both. Is that what you want? Or do you want to send a message about running elections without selling out?

Mayor or bust.

On May 7, 2013 a small percentage of Dayton voters will go to the polls to narrow the field of candidates for Dayton Mayor and City Commission. It’s a rare election in that we even have this choice, since most times, the Board of (S)Elections manages to keep most of the potential candidates off the ballot. The Commission seats are staggered as well, so that this is the odd chance to elect a majority- three people, to the commission which is the number you need to actually do anything. If you are a student of Dayton election history- this never happens (at least in modern times). Incumbents win, party supported candidates win, there have only been a few upset wins- Turner over Dixon, McLin over Turner, Leitzell over McLin- and all by less than 1000 votes.

The Commissioner seats rarely change hands unless the party wants it to happen. Dean Lovelace was the last non-party person to win, and that was in a rare special election. Most likely, his seat will transfer in yet another special election, sometime after this primary.

In each race this year, we’re eliminating one candidate. Hardly a big choice. The mayors race is getting all of the attention, with more Mayor only candidates nights. I filmed 2 this week- they are posted at www.independentdayton.com There was little new knowledge to be gained. But, I did ask a question at the League of Women Voters event Tuesday, of Nan Whaley and AJ Wagner that bears watching- it was if it comes down to the two of them, both career politicians and Democratic party insiders (AJ owes at least 4 elections to their backing), would they agree to campaign spending caps.

AJ put it to Nan, and she didn’t answer directly, but instead talked about a “first class campaign.”

With yesterdays pre-campaign filings, it’s become clear that Nan has zero intention of holding back a dime, having out raised AJ by a ridiculous number, who has in-turn, out-raised and out-spent the Mayor by a ridiculous number.

The question for voters, since one of these free-spending, cost-no-object candidates will still be on the ballot no matter what, is how obscene do you want this race to be?

To me, there is only one choice- to vote for Leitzell by a ridiculous margin and send a clear message to these two political machines that it’s got to be about the power of ideas and your actions that you demonstrate your leadership quality- not by the amounts of money you throw at the campaign. To knock the biggest spender out in the primary would be epic. It would also be the most sensible thing to do, since Whaley has had 8 years with the support of at least 2 other votes the entire time she’s been in office.  She’s had plenty of time to change the course of this city- even though change in government runs at only one speed in this town- slow (that’s a Leitzell quote).

The fact that she raised over $30,000 from three unions can only be construed as them wanting to protect their bargaining with the City Manager (current or the next one) and think that Nan can exert that kind of pull. The other money, like a $5,000 donations from Washington (William Robinson, 1730 Rhode Island Ave. Washington DC 20036 4/17/13 Online $5,000.00), or a fundraiser in Columbus Ohio which $5,595 should upset me as a Dayton voter, but it doesn’t. It’s to be expected by someone who lives politics 24/7 and has no idea or ideas, about what it takes to let ideas own the discussion.

The donation from Penn National Gaming PAC of $1000 (they of the “Racino”) or the donations by other politicians who are giving money that taxpayers gave to them, to her, don’t phase me either- although I find them reprehensible. (full disclosure, William Pace’s campaign gave my campaign $100). She also got $1000 from the Washington PAC Emily’s list- as if Nan is a powerhouse on national agenda issues. There are other donors from all over. I’d almost like to do a breakdown of how many of her donors actually live in Dayton proper, but she’s not worth my time.

What bothered me most, was a single donation of $200 from a gentleman in Cleveland Heights, Art Brooks. I’ve known his daughters Caryn and Kristin since grade school. He served on a committee with my mother to start an Artists co-op in the seventies. He has no vested interest in Dayton, I doubt he’s ever been here. He probably gave because Nan had our Senator, Sherrod Brown working his donors over for her. It disappoints me that the favors of one candidate buy another. Why do we even allow the voters into the equation?

I’m posting both AJ Wagner’s filing: Wagner, AJ – 2013 Pre-Primary and Nan Whaley’s: Whaley, N – 2013 Pre Primary

Look them over. Ask, at what price do you think is reasonable to run for Mayor? And, do you really want these two in a no-holds barred race? It’s Dayton’s turn to say no to big money in politics and bring national attention to the problem. It’s time to tell rich people that they can’t continue to buy our elected offices. It’s time to tell Nan, you had your free ride- this is the last ride.

The only thing I really feel sorry for is everyone who is going to have to see her $27,000 tv media spend. The commercial is painfully bad.

Elect Esrati campaign finance report: pre-primary

As the candidate that tries the hardest to keep voters informed, I’m posting a PDF of my campaign finances before the 4pm deadline today.

It shows that I raised $3455 by the deadline of the 19th- spent $2650 so far. I had two fundraisers that brought in $805.

If you look at this report, just be warned- it’s as convoluted as the tax code- asking for different kinds of forms for different kinds of donations etc.

As to my donors, the highest donation was $250 from Terry Posey and Kevin Busarow bought two seats at my chicken parmigiana dinner for $250. The average donation worked out to about $100.

So far my entire campaign has cost less than half of what either Nan Whaley or AJ Wagner spent on each of their websites.

My major vendor is The Next Wave- my own firm. I bill my campaign for work that my employees do, not for the work I do. Most of the money goes for printing.

I’m helped out a bit since Mayor Leitzell and David Greer went thirds with me on a printing run for a shared piece, and that I’m reusing yard signs from two campaigns ago.

I’ve also donated my time to design and prep for print both Leitzell and Greer’s materials.

Elect Esrati 2013 pre-primary Campaign Finance Report pdf

I will post the reports of the other candidates as they become available.