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.



The candidates are coming out of the woodwork for Dayton City Commission

Dayton City Commission brawl for a special election seat

Let the street fight begin

While everyone knows we’re about to have a battle of the God Squad, with Daryl vs Darryl (Ward vs Fairchild) there are others running petitions right now.

Now, of course, there is always the barrier of the Montgomery County Board of (S)Elections which has an uncanny ability to disqualify candidates for all kinds of reasons. The petitions are broken- as is the process.

  • Donald Domenick who has turned in petitions before and been disqualified is suggesting he’s running. He’s the head of the Black Panther Party in Dayton.
  • Lauren White who owns Indigo Life Media and the Nucleus Co-share space on E. Fifth in the Oregon District has supposedly been hustling a petition in East Dayton. She’s got her own marketing firm- and social media chops.
  • added 27 Feb: Abraham Sandy, 19, who is a student at Stivers and head of the Dayton Republican Club, and co-chairman in Montgomery County of the Mike Gibbons for United States Senate campaign.

If you have anyone else come by with a petition- please, add their name in comments.

Special Elections like this one for Joey Williams seat are considered the best chance of getting elected to the Commission. It was the magic for Dean Lovelace after 2 previous failed attempts.

And, no, I’m not running. 2 lawsuits, a Service Disabled Veteran who is going to need my help as he re-enters the community, my mother, and a big VA contract for my business are all tops on the list. I’ve also got to make sure I win my precinct captaincy to help overthrow the Monarchy of Montgomery County.

Let the petition failures be few, and the choices good.

How the state can save half a million on the election that doesn’t matter

Doofus candidate runs as a democratic candidate for Congress for a seat he’ll never win. Drops out after the primary and before the general. In this case only one candidate files, and the Board of Elections thinks they have to host an election to confirm one candidate at a cost of half a million:

Steven Fought, the Democrat running in the 8th Congressional District, was surprised to learn he was the only person to file petitions for the race when the previous candidate, Corey Foister, dropped out.

“I looked at the vacancy in this district and thought the people deserved a choice,” Fought said.

Foister’s decision to leave the race was prompted by a job opportunity out of state. Had he waited an additional 17 days to withdraw, the Democratic Party would have been able to appoint a replacement candidate. Instead, state law requires that a special election be held, even though Fought’s name will be the only one on the ballot.

That me ans an election that costs taxpayers $500,000 will almost certainly reveal what is already known, that Fought will be opposing Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, in the November election.

Fought may cruise to victory in the Democratic primary, but he faces a much more difficult challenge on Nov. 8. The 8th District, which includes Butler, Preble, Darke, Miami, Clark and a portion of Mercer counties, is one of the most GOP-friendly districts in Ohio….

Local officials tried to reduce the cost of holding an election with just one person on the ballot.

Jason Baker, Clark County Board of Elections director, said initially he looked for some way to hold the special election without going to the expense of opening every precinct.

“Unfortunately the Ohio Revised Code says differently,” he said. “Here in Clark County we will have 50 of 51 locations that will be open. Regardless of how many candidates are on the ballot you have to have a full-blown election for it. It doesn’t matter if it’s one, two or 50 (candidates).”

Early voting in the special 8th District Democratic primary has already started at the board offices.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who runs Ohio’s elections, considers this one to be a waste of time and money.“I hope the legislature will change the law to avoid this problem in the future,” he said in a written statement.

Source: From the Dayton Daily News, 2016-08-22: Candidate: Election cost not his fault

Same thing happened in Montgomery County about 6 years ago in 2010. Single candidate made it on the ballot because my petitions were ruled invalid. Candidate dropped out. Three candidates filed, and instead of opening every precinct, Elections Director Steve Harsman opened 4 remote polling places to pick a dem to run against Mike Turner. The candidates were Joe Roberts, the party endorsed putz of a 25 year old, Guy Fogle – a former broadcaster and this idiot.

Roberts won with nominal votes, and then got crushed by Turner. He left town with bills behind.

Trying to decipher Ohio election law and what changed is above my paygrade- but, there is precedent for not opening every precinct in a contested election, nevermind this uncontested one.

If this proves to be possible, I should get a Whistleblowers award for saving the state money. If it is impossible, I’ll be suing for holding an illegal election. Cheers.

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.

Esrati files for OH-3, others will follow

At approximately 2:35 p.m. on June 7, Dayton Community Activist and small business owner David Esrati filed petitions containing 98 signatures to run in the July 13th special election for the Democratic party side of the OH-3 congressional ballot. Ohio-3 is an extremely gerrymandered district including a majority of Montgomery County, the northern part of Warren County and all of Clinton and Highland counties. The seat is currently held by former Dayton Mayor, Republican Mike Turner who first ran after losing the Dayton Mayoral race to Rhine McLin and the seat opened when  longstanding Democrat Tony Hall was lured out with a World Hunger Organization position and the district was redrawn to favor a Republican candidate.

Turner has accepted millions of dollars from special interest groups and is a favorite of Defense contractors, tobacco companies, Wall Street and insurance companies. He has approximately half a million on hand in his campaign treasury right now. He has coasted to victory in every race, despite being caught in a no-bid contract between the quasi-governmental Dayton Development Coalition and his wife, Lori’s marketing firm “The Turner Effect.” She also performed work for the Army Corps of Engineers while he sat on the Defense appropriations committee, and she held a GSA schedule to do work for the Federal Government while her husband was a sitting Congressman. Work for The Home Depot PAC was also exposed as a potential way around campaign finance laws, but was never investigated.

The special election was called after Dr. Mark MacNealy, who ran unopposed in the spring primary, dropped out. His campaign manager, Joe Roberts, was the only announced candidate before Esrati announced, but now former Dayton TV personality Guy N. Fogle of Miamisburg- an undeclared party candidate, Democrat C. Roger Gollihugh of Springboro, have also taken out petitions. A “Mack Van Hall” may also be turning in petitions according to Montgomery County Board of Elections, however the petition deadline isn’t until Thursday, June 10 {corrected Jun 9), and the petitions (Form 2E) are also available online courtesy of candidate Esrati.

The Board of Elections will meet in special session on Friday, June 11th to certify the candidates. The BOE may have Esrati’s petitions certified by Wednesday, June 9th at which point he will declare his candidacy officially (since declaring candidacy before the signatures have been ratified means nothing). Donations from individuals will begin to be accepted for Elect Esrati on that date.

Esrati ran in the Democratic Primary in 2008 for the OH-3 nomination, losing to Jane Mitakides who spent considerable sums of her own money losing to Turner by an even bigger margin than her 2004 outing.

Turner and Esrati first squared off in 1993, when they both ran against incumbent Mayor Richard Clay Dixon in a 6-way primary. In 1996, when Esrati caught Turner and the entire City Commission meeting illegally in “work sessions” discussing ways to eliminate citizen participation at Commission meetings, Esrati donned a black hood- and silently protested the proposed changes to the commission meetings. Turner had Esrati arrested, charged with four fourth-degree misdemeanors and pushed the city law department to prosecute and appeal every legal loss (the city lost all five cases) until finally given a choice of attempting to go to the U.S. Supreme Court or settle. The city cut a check to Esrati and his lawyers for $100,000 on Aug. 21, 1998. to end Turner’s vendetta. For a summary of that case, please see

In the time that Turner has been your Congressman, major employers have left the region due to the failures of crony capitalism, property values have dropped dramatically due to his unwillingness to have a meaningful discussion about banking practices and the Wall Street Casino and unemployment has reached record highs. In his eight years in office he has yet to author any significant reform bills to Congress. However, he has admitted that his earmarks are for sale to the highest bidder.

If there are multiple candidates that make the ballot, Esrati will call on the league of Women Voters to stage a debate between the candidates and will post it on YouTube.