Retail politics and May 8, 2018 election

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What educated voters in Dayton 1-D are getting hand delivered. Click to download PDF

The way you win elections isn’t with :30 second TV spots, yard signs, or facebook ads.

At least that’s not how the most successful campaigns do it anymore.

It’s all data driven, trying to target most likely voters, and deciding who we need to get out and vote. It’s done through personal contact, door knocking, volunteers calling, and endless data collection and analysis.

Or- you ignore all the data, and just realize you have to meet and convince more voters than your opponent and hope.

That only works when you are running for something as small as precinct captain, which, yours truly is.

I’ve got 2 opponents. One has even printed a tri-fold brochure. So I have to out work, out knock, and out talk him.

Which is what I’ve been doing including enough time in the sun yesterday to be told by my mother that I’m sunburned.

I was also preaching the sermon for Darryl Fairchild and to vote yes on Issue 1.

And here are the takeaways:

  • Despite all efforts to clear voter rolls and eliminate old data, there are still some people on the rolls who shouldn’t be (hadn’t voted since the 90’s, dead, house has been torn down).
  • That some homes in my neighborhood have had multiple addresses- and the voter rolls still haven’t been fixed.
  • Party affiliations are often wrong.
  • A ton of “UNC” or unclassified voters- way more than D or R. So no matter how much the two parties think they should rule the roost of the Board of (S)Elections- by the look of things, we’re letting the foxes run the hen house. And many of them are pissed that they can’t vote for me as Precinct Captain and Gary Leitzel for County Commission at the same time.
  • Issue 1- most had no clue it was on the ballot.

What we need more than any ballot reform- is a real voter information system. No one seems to know where to go to find in-depth, relevant information about each candidate and race. If we had a board of elections that took their job seriously, we’d have a better system than what we have now.

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Sample Ballot for Dayton 1-D for a Dem in the May 8, 2018 election (Click to download entire PDF)

For now- if you want to know what your ballot sort of looks like- you can go here and download your personalized ballot.

Then you have a choice of party, or issues only, to see what will be on the ballot in your precinct.

You should go, download a ballot, and research every issue, candidate, and try to make a decision long before you go to the polls.

If we’d switch to vote by mail, like Oregon (the State, not the district) did long ago, we could even mail a catalog with equal space for every candidate to summarize their candidacy and provide links to their site, for more information.

If we had a system like that- we could eliminate 90% of campaign ads, mailers, signs and stupidity.



Something broke in the May Special Election

Considering that record money was spent in the May primary, the turnout was incredibly low. 9,704 voters cast a ballot, and it’s hard to figure out what percentage of voters there really are in Dayton because of the changes in the registration process.

In the 2012 presidential election, 58,441 cast votes. If we take that as everyone who could vote did- we had a turnout of about 16% for the special election.

Of the total votes- 9,486 voted in both elections. Meaning only 218 people were either new voters, or missed the presidential.

But, what’s surprising- of the “Supervoters” who vote in every election- say the last 5 not including the primary, Dayton had 4,973 before the special election, but only 3,097 of them voted in the special- reducing their ranks by 1,876. Somehow, 1,876 people who have been proven voters- chose not to, or left our city, or didn’t feel compelled to vote.

This leads me to a few thoughts, especially since the “Dayton Independent” candidates focused on those people “most likely to vote.” The Whaley campaign was utilizing data collected to make sure that those who were biased toward her got to the polls. Yes, she spent ungodly money to do it- but, her investment in NGPVan and her help with data from the party- like lists of emails of donors, and massive mailings, and email campaigns were focused on Dems who vote the party line. In fact of the special election voters, 6,508 are identified as Dem and 2,006 as Rep – leaving 1.190 as undecided, undeclared, or other.

Considering that the Dayton special election is a nonpartisan run-off, and open to all, and the city skews Dem traditionally, these numbers aren’t surprising. Nor is the turnout, despite not having had a runoff for Mayor and Commission in 20 years.

The 1,876 supervoters who chose to sit this one out are the oddity. Had only 229 more of them voted for Leitzell, A.J. Wagner would have spent $106,000 for naught. Combined, Wagner and Leitzell had 4,904 votes to Nan’s 4,965, a 61 vote gap. If every Leitzell voter votes for A.J., and the turnout is similar, we have a very even race.

Elections are no longer won by rhetoric, they are won with databases. I’ve worked hard from outside the system, without party support or much help from the partisan Board of Elections to build the tools to analyze the data and work with it. Unlike my previous runs for office, I never had the test data from a primary to know where I did well and where I didn’t- and didn’t have the money to do proper polling. This time is different. The real question is, can I reach the voters I know I need to reach between now and November 5th for under $10,000, and can I get those who indicate they are most likely to give me their support to get out and vote. It’s hard for some people to back the underdog- I had the least number of votes in the special to get on the ballot with 2,087, but my goal was never to win the primary- just to place.

Everything is different for November. If you’d like to help, we’re having an organizational meeting of volunteers on Tuesday, July 9, at 6 p.m. at Top of The Market- 32 Webster St. near the corner of E. Third St. It’s a joint effort between my campaign, David Greer’s campaign and the mayor’s petition-signing campaign to collect the huge number of signatures it takes to run as an independent candidate for County Commission in 2014. We’ve invited A.J. Wagner’s people to attend as well- but, we’ve not heard a definitive reply.

I know that I will be willing to distribute A.J. Wagner literature as I canvass, but doubt he’d do the same for me. I believe the best-informed voters make the best voting decisions, and have no problem working for change.

There is one thing to realize about the Dayton City Commission- it takes 3 votes to accomplish any substantial change. Joey Williams has had 12 years with easy access to at least 2 supporting votes, Nan Whaley has had 8 years of at least 2 supporting votes- and what have they accomplished, or not accomplished so far? If you want to see change, this year, for the first time in 20 years, it’s possible to put three new faces on the commission.




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 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.

So many choices for Dayton City Commission and Mayor in 2013

Despite the Montgomery County Democratic Party endorsements, which promptly saw Daryl Fairchild drop out when they endorsed Jeff Mims and Joey Williams, the Dayton Daily seems to think that there will be a bevy of candidates on the May ballot.

The race for two commission seats – one being defended by Williams and one being vacated by Whaley – could be an active one. More than a dozen Dayton residents took out petitions to run, but four have already reconsidered.

Prominent local minister Darryl Fairchild announced Thursday, after failing to win the Democratic endorsement, that he will end his campaign and support Williams and Mims instead, drawing a loud ovation from party members. But there are several notable names planning to run.

Williams is a third-term incumbent and former Dayton school board member. Mims is a state school board member who previously served on Dayton’s school board. Others running include David K. Greer, chairman of the city’s Northwest Priority Board, and David Esrati, a longtime activist and candidate who runs a local ad agency.

Attorney Mark Manovich and William Pace, who ran active races for city commission in 2011, have pulled petitions, as has Tim O’Bryant, a minister and real estate agent who ran for county recorder in November. Tim Zecchini, Donald Domineck Jr. and Willie Dion Walker also took out petitions.

Mims said he enjoyed the screening process before the Democratic Party’s executive committee.

“You get a bunch of questions, and you go in nervous as all get-out, and sorta humble, hoping that people understand what you’ve done in the past that reflects the Democratic values and valuing all people,” Mims said.

Esrati criticized the screening process, arguing the party should encourage as many Democrats to run in the primary as possible, rather than endorsing a select few.

via Democrats endorse Whaley, Williams, Mims for Dayton races |

In the Mayors race, there are all kinds of names circulating:

The endorsement of current City Commissioner Whaley for mayor comes as little surprise, as she’s a member of the Ohio Democratic Party’s central committee and was the only candidate to actively seek the nod.

A.J. Wagner, a former Democratic judge and county auditor also running for mayor, said he’s running as a nonpartisan candidate. Whaley and Wagner will challenge incumbent Mayor Gary Leitzell, an independent. Larry Ealy, Derek Folley, Eric Gregory and Diane Sloan also have taken out mayoral petitions to run, according to the Board of Elections.

Folley (which may be spelled Foley) and Ealy have failed with signatures before. I never “pulled petitions” from the BOE, because I have them already and never had a need to announce to party insiders of my intentions. Note, the Dayton Daily News gave Fairchild a long article when he announced- and, if Nan doesn’t get knocked out of the primary, look for the party to endorse him for Dean Lovelace’s seat when they finally call him on the charter requirements to go after missing 5 meetings in a row. They are building a wheelchair ramp to the commission dais for either Lovelace or Fairchild- take your pick.

If anyone has links to any of these other candidates sites and positions, please share them in comments. It will be interesting if any of them are willing to agree to limiting their campaign spending as the Mayor and I have already pledged to do.

As an aside, if Leitzell does get knocked out of the primary and it comes down to Nan vs AJ- I am already firmly behind AJ- just for the record.


Fayette County’s new congressional districts for 2012

With the last-minute changes to the congressional districts in December 2011, residents of the northern part of Fayette County found themselves with a new incumbent congressman, Mike Turner, and a new divide in their community. This article from the Washington Court House Record-Herald comes in handy to find out who your congressman is or will be:

For those who are still uncertain as to which Congressional District they now live in since the redrawing of Ohio’s district lines, the Fayette County Board of Elections website has a feature that can help.

By visiting and clicking on the “Am I Registered?” link on the left side of the page, registered voters can see which U.S. Congressional, State Senate, State House, and Court of Appeals districts in which they reside and what races they will be voting on at Tuesday’s primary election.

When Ohio’s lawmakers split Fayette County into the newly-formed 10th, the northern half of the county, and 15th Congressional District, the southern half, there was much uncertainty among county residents. Through the use of of a satellite mapping system put together by Scott Cormany, the GIS Director with the Fayette County Auditor’s Office, the local Board of Elections office was able to pinpoint the district in which every county residence is located.

“There’s not much change at all with the polling locations,” said Jamie Brooks, the director of the local Board of Elections. “There is only two voting precincts that are split into two different Congressional Districts.”

These two precincts are the Jasper Township precinct and the Union Township Southwest precinct. Only the southern-most corner of Jasper Township and a portion of Union Township below the city of Washington C.H. is located in the 15th District.

The 10th Congressional District includes: the entire city of Washington C.H. (all 11 precincts), the Jefferson Township north and south precincts, the village of Jeffersonville, Madison Township, Marion Township, Paint Township, the village of Bloomingburg, the Union Township east and north precincts as well as part of the southwest precinct, and part of Jasper Township.

The 15th Congressional District includes: Concord Township, Green Township, Perry Township, Wayne Township, part of Jasper Township and part of the Union Township southwest precinct.

Registered Republicans who live in the 10th Congressional District will have to decide between Mike Turner, John D. Anderson, and Edward Focke Breen for Congressional representative. For U.S. Senator, they will vote for one of Josh Mandel, Michael L. Pryce, David W. Dodt, Donna K. Glisman, and Eric LaMont Gregory.

Registered Democrats who live in the 10th Congressional District will have to decide between Mack Van Allen, David Esrati, Olivia Freeman, Tom McMasters, Sharen Swartz Neuhardt and Ryan Steele for Congressional representative. For U.S. Senator, the only choice is incumbent Sherrod Brown.

Registered Republicans who live in the 15th Congressional District, will vote for one of Charles Chope and Steve Stivers for Congressional representative. For U.S. Senator, they will also vote for one of Mandel, Pryce, Dodt, Glisman and Gregory.

Registered Democrats who live in the 15th Congressional District will decide between Pat Lang and Scott Wharton for Congressional representative. For U.S. Senator, the only candidate is incumbent Sherrod Brown.

From the field of Republican candidates for President of the United States, all of Fayette County will choose between: Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

For Democrats who would like to vote in the Republican primary or Republicans who would like to vote in the Democratic primary, all’s you have to do is ask for a Republican or Democratic ballot. However for those who choose to do that, they will be registered with that party for the next two primary elections.

via Where do I?vote? – Welcome to the W.C.H. Record-Herald – Washington Court House, OH.

I have information, including video, articles and campaign materials posted for the candidates of the OH-10 congressional race at